Retired Aurora police chief tapped to review response to Uvalde school shooting

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner via WLS logo
Thursday, June 9, 2022
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Retired Aurora police chief Kristen Ziman is one of nine experts selected by the Justice Department to review the Uvalde school shooting response.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are lessons to be learned from Uvalde, and a law enforcement expert learned them firsthand during a deadly suburban Chicago mass shooting three years ago.

When Kristen Ziman was Aurora police chief in 2019, she was in charge of the response to a mass shooting at a factory. Now she has been appointed to help prepare a Uvalde lesson plan after the mass shooting in a school.

The now-retired Aurora chief is one of nine law enforcement experts selected by the Justice Department to review what happened in Texas.

On February 15, 2019, five employees were shot to death at the Henry Pratt company in Aurora by a just-fired worker. He also wounded five police officers before the SWAT team killed him.

RELATED | New federal report reviews Aurora police response to mass shooting

"There were some things in there that we know we can absolutely do better," Ziman said during an interview with the I-Team in September 2019, just after the post-incident report for the Pratt shooting had been completed.

Ziman's willingness to acknowledge what went wrong is the kind of approach Justice Department officials appear to be looking for in their post-Uvalde assessment.

In Washington, Attorney General Merrick Garland named Ziman and eight others to a national panel that will review what happened in Uvalde and whether it could have been prevented.

"There is nothing that we can do that can undo the pain borne both by the survivors, families of the victims and the community, and the country," Garland said. "But the independence, and transparency and expertise of the Justice Department can go a long way toward assessing what happened in Uvalde with respect to the law enforcement response and to giving guidance for the future."

The team Ziman joins will produce something similar to an "after action report" that federal emergency management experts prepared following the Aurora attack.

That report, obtained by the I-Team, amounted to an anatomy of a mass murder case. The I-Team discussed that with Ziman at the time, including elements that may have also gone wrong in Uvalde, from communication issues to a lack of floor plans available to police for the buildings.

With Ziman on the Uvalde review team are several other retired police officials from departments in California, Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania, an FBI supervisor, and a couple of non-law enforcement business executives. They will look at the policies and training and provide a complete incident reconstruction examining what was done before, during, and after the incident that left 19 schoolchildren and two teachers dead.