John Oliver Argues Against More Police in Schools in Wake of Texas Shooting
After a brief segment taking jabs at Prince Andrew and the U.K.’s Platinum Jubilee celebration honoring Queen Elizabeth II, John Oliver dove right into his main segment on Sunday night’s Last Week Tonight, arguing for increased gun control measures in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last month.
Noting the National Rifle Association’s Texas convention three days after the tragedy occurred, Oliver showed a clip where Wayne LaPierre, chief of the NRA, argued for fully funding U.S. police departments as well as school security officer programs.
“It is not surprising that the CEO of NRA wants more people with guns,” Oliver stated. It’d be like the National Raccoon Association’s head saying, “The garbage dump is full so we need more garbage.” What else can you expect him to say ?”
In the six years after the Columbine school shooting in 1999, the federal government allocated $750 million for the hiring of more than 6,500 school resource officers. However, Oliver noted, since then, data shows that 58 percent of American schools have a sworn law enforcement officer on campus at least once a week while other resources have been diminished. Oliver cited another study showing that 14 million students are in schools that have a police officer but no counselor, nurse, psychologist or social worker.
“That is 14 million kids who are closer in proximity to a pair of handcuffs than they are to a medical or mental health professional,” he said.
Oliver then went on to question whether a school’s police presence actually deters school shootings. He cited a 2020 study that showed that shooters were not stopped by security cameras, metal detectors, locked doors, or officers. He said that just because there is a police officer on campus, it doesn’t mean that shootings can be stopped. For example, both Uvalde and Parkland schools were visited by officers at the time of the shooting in 2018,. A Washington Post analysis shows that there have only been two instances in the past two decades when a school resource officer has been able to take down an active shooter. He showed a video where an expert said that a shooter is more dangerous when there is a police presence. They are heavily armed and know that the school has law enforcement.
” If school cops can make shootings more serious, why are we still pitching them for a solution?” Oliver inquired. “If Off! discovered that their mosquito repellant attracted mosquitoes, they’d stop selling it, or at the very least rebrand it as a cologne for lonely mosquito bachelors.”
Oliver continued to examine the impact that cops can have on students. He noted that while some schools have officers who serve as mentors or in other roles, this is not true in schools with disadvantaged students. They are more likely there to engage in law enforcement activities.
In the 2017-18 school year, there were more than 54,000 arrests by officers employed at schools, for infractions as minor as throwing a paper airplane, baby carrot or Skittle. Oliver was also indignant that a 5-year old with ADHD was charged with battery on an officer for throwing a tantrum. Oliver stated that the only thing 100 they were guilty of was being “a fucking 5-yearold.”
He also showed a clip showing a high school student explaining how she was arrested for “bombs & explosives” violations after performing a science experiment in which a cap blew out a plastic container. “That is so stupid for so many reasons. One reason is that you think meth when you hear the words “felony for a scientific experiment.” If I gave you 500 guesses for what science experiment got someone charged with a felony, your first 499 guesses would be ‘meth,’ and the next one would be, ‘Are you 100 percent sure that it’s not meth?’ Never in your wildest dreams would it be ‘popping a bottle cap’ unless, inside that bottle, was some meth.”
In some cases, these arrests can lead to a criminal record.
Oliver also cited studies that showed students with disabilities and Black children are more likely to get arrested than their peers. Oliver stated that “the presence of police can make school miserable” for some children. “We don’t need more ways to make school more frightening,” Oliver said. It’s already scary enough. It’s already terrifying enough.
Oliver argued that the money that is “inevitably” about to be used to fund school cops instead be earmarked for counselors, nurses and “other resources that actually protect students.”
“School shootings are not solved by school police. Oliver said that gun control is the solution. “When we put more cops in schools to avoid difficult and necessary conversations, we not only fail our kids from gun violence but also condemn them to a system which criminalizes the very essence childhood. Children deserve to be annoying without being detained, to be sad and angry with no body-slammed. They should have tantrums, throw sticks, do science experiments and talk shite without fear of being arrested. They are entitled to be curious, make mistakes, be a little too loud, and be fucking kids. And they definitely deserve better than the fundamental lie the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy who can arrest a 5-year-old.”
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