The Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX in which 19 fourth-grade students were massacred, is a textbook example of how not to properly handle a PR crisis.
Two days after the tragedy, law enforcement were in front of cameras fielding questions and attempting to explain what happened. The only problem is their story kept changing.
This event can hardly be called a PR crisis. It is beyond imagination that 11-year-old kids would be brutally killed. But the intense media attention pressured law enforcement to feed their desires for information. They were pressured by the media for an explanation and answers as to what happened.
The parents deserve nothing less.
Instead of law enforcement — which has the hardest and most dangerous jobs in the world — were pressured if not bullied into meeting with media to explain the details and timeline of what they did. They first said the gunman was met outside the school by a School Resource Officer who was shot. Then, officials said that never happened. Then, they said they could not find the key to the classroom. That explanation went away. At this writing the story now is police locked the gunman in the classroom with the children and waited an hour for SWAT.
There is no doubt other explanations will emerge.
It takes a special kind of person to run toward gunfire to save lives. Not many people can do it, and nobody should unless they are trained and have extraordinary bravery.
But if law enforcement is making up the series of events day by day without knowing what really happened, they are doing a disservice not only to themselves, but the millions of other parents who rely on schools to keep their children safe.
It is easy to second guess law enforcement. We weren’t there. We were not navigating the chaos. But law enforcement only makes matters worse by trying to satisfy the media without knowing all the facts.