Why do cops with questionable backgrounds keep getting new jobs?

In the hours after University of the Incarnate Word police officer Christopher Carter fatally shot Cameron Redus outside his off-campus apartment in Alamo Heights, he told police and university officials that he had shot the honored UIW student after a struggle and an unarmed Redus came charging. at Carter with a raised fist.

Carter, who was almost twice the size of Redus, dubiously claimed he feared for his life.

Later, the Bexar County medical examiner concluded that Carter shot Redus once in the back, pointing his gun at Redus, fired a shot that entered his eye socket and exited 9 inches lower through his neck. Either of those two shots of the six Carter fired and the five that struck Redus would have been fatal, the coroner said.

Carter’s version of events clearly did not add up, and his previous two years of work for the UIW included a series of policy violations and inappropriate actions that led to reprimands and consensus among other police officers in the campus that Carter was incompetent. It was common knowledge, sources said, that Carter had stumbled across nine law enforcement and security jobs in the six or seven years before he was hired at UIW. In most of these jobs, he only lasted months. Yet even though he gained a reputation as a misfit on campus, Carter remained somewhat employed.

After the shooting, he was placed on administrative leave with pay for a year. The UIW, then led by its longtime president Lou Agnese Jr., later allowed Carter to resign in good standing.

This allowed Carter to seek employment elsewhere as a police officer. San Antonio, Bexar County, and other college police forces avoided it, but Carter eventually found part-time work as a police officer in the south Texas town of Orange Grove. , which only lasted for months, then as a police officer in Mathis, again for months. before being fired. From there, it bounced back to the Helotes Police Department. He has been unemployed for two years.

Why did these small town police forces hire such a bad actor? Besides, why did UIW allow Carter to go elsewhere and find new opportunities to wear a badge and a gun?

Carter’s story of cycling in and out of law enforcement jobs is not unlike that of Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who failed miserably when he was put on probation on May 24 when an armed teenager entered Robb Elementary School and slaughtered 19 young children and two teachers. . Arredondo and dozens of law enforcement officers gathered outside the classroom for more than 75 minutes before a few officers entered the classroom and shot the shooter.

Arredondo, apparently the on-scene commander, did not follow accepted police practices in such situations which require rapid engagement with active shooter. Instead, he faltered, either out of cowardice, incompetence, or a simple inability to lead and act under fire. Or all three.

In the days following the second-worst school shooting in US history, I made note in my readings of Arredondo’s background as a former Uvalde city police officer who was hired to a senior position at the Webb County Sheriff’s Department in Laredo before leaving to work as an officer in the Laredo Public School District.

He also quit that job and returned to Uvalde to lead the small police force for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District. The sequence of job changes had all the appearance of Arredondo bouncing from one law enforcement position to another, not in an upward trajectory.

A Thursday article in the San Antonio Express-News confirmed my suspicions. Reporters Brian Chasnoff and Joshua Eaton looked into Arredondo’s background and received an official interview from Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar, who said he demoted Arredondo from deputy chief to commander because he was unable to get along with others in the department, including his supervisor.

“It was difficult to get along with his colleagues, especially the senior managers,” Cuellar told Express-News reporters. “The basic thing I mean is that he just didn’t fit the qualifications or the job I gave him.”

Cuellar told reporters that Arredondo was disliked by his fellow officers neither in the department nor at his former workplace in Uvalde.

This begs the question of why Arredondo was hired at Webb County in the first place if his track record at Uvalde was not good and why he was kept on after exhibiting unprofessional behavior.

Three years after his demotion, he resigned from the Webb County Sheriff’s Department and took a position with the Laredo United ISD. Three years later, he left that job to take command of the small police force in the Uvalde School District.

Whether a more capable leader acting more decisively could have saved lives at Robb Elementary is impossible to know, but we can say that Arredondo’s inaction will haunt the families of the victims for the rest of their lives. He will never enjoy the public trust again.

Carter and Arredondo have one thing in common beyond their poor record and blatant incompetence as professional law enforcement officers. Both have benefited from a system in which officers are allowed to move between police departments, with their new supervisors often failing to conduct background checks first.

To this day, Carter and Arredondo remain eligible for employment as police officers in Texas.