Law enforcement units policing public schools in Texas have acquired tons of used military gear, including M16 rifles, armored vehicles and scores of “high capacity magazines,” all in alleged efforts to keep students safe.
Citing the shootings at Columbine and Sandy Hook as pretexts for the need to militarize school police, an investigation launched by CBS affiliate KHOU recently found that cops in at least 10 different Texas school districts are seemingly gearing up for war.
“In all, the departments received 64 M16 rifles, 18 M14 rifles, 25 automatic pistols, and magazines capable of holding 4,500 rounds of ammunition as well armored plating, tactical vests, and 15 surplus military vehicles,” reports KHOU.
It’s likely schools across the state and as far south as the Rio Grande Valley have been equipped, at little or no cost, through the Department of Defense’s Section 1033 weapons transfer program, which has also facilitated the distribution of used high grade weaponry, such as grenade launchers and tracked tank vehicles, to various local police departments in the U.S.
The 1996 Pentagon program has come under renewed scrutiny following the chaos in Ferguson, Missouri, last month, in which militarized state and local police unveiled armored swat vans, trained laser sights on peaceful demonstrators and converged on journalists, ostensibly to prevent looting and vandalism from occurring.
A representative from the Texas Appleseed organization told KHOU he doesn’t think the extra equipment would actually increase student safety.
“We don’t necessarily believe that this kind of equipment leads to students feeling more secure and safe in schools,” said Texas Appleseed Development Director Brennan Griffin, adding that the introduction of so-called “less lethal” methods in schools, such as pepper spray and Tasers, have often been “used inappropriately” and can instead “end up harming children.”
In a story last November, for example, we documented the case of 17-year-old Nino de Rivera, a Texas teen who sustained severe traumatic brain injury when he fell headfirst onto concrete after a school police officer relied on a taser to subdue him.
Indeed, a report from the Cato Institute reveals Americans are 8 times more likely to be killed by police than by a terrorist, and other studies suggest U.S. citizens are 800 times more likely to be killed by a cop than citizens of Japan, Britain or Germany.
Griffin also said, given the small timeframe within which active shooter scenarios typically unfold, the cops’ added equipment would be rendered virtually useless.
“It’s hard to see how an officer would be able to gain access to the armory, bring it to the school, assess the situation and somehow use that weapon in the time that a school shooting usually occurs,” said Griffin.
Looking at the wider scheme of things, the arming of school police is part of a gradual effort to morph public schools into prisons, complete with fences, armed guards, metal detectors and random, unannounced vehicle, locker or backpack searches using “safety” as their justification.
Schools in Compton, Cali., have also recently moved to arm their campus police with AR-15 rifles, claiming their objective is to “save lives, bottom line.”
“Weapons of compliance, such as tasers which deliver electrical shocks lethal enough to kill, not only teach young people to fear the police, the face of our militarized government, but teach them that torture is an accepted means of controlling the population,” writes Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead. “It’s a problem that has grown exponentially as the schools have increasingly clamored for—and hired on—their own police forces.”