Law enforcement and other officials attend a press conference on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.

Law enforcement and other officials are in Uvalde, Texas, for a press conference.

Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images

The more details that emerge about how police responded to the massacre in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, the clearer it is that the already well-funded, heavily armed and amply trained law enforcement officers on the scene failed to save the lives of 19 children and two of their teachers.

Here is what we know so far, based on haunting videos from the scene outside Robb Elementary School and statements from police officials themselves. The man murdered 21 people. It appears that no police officers engaged with the shooter before he entered the school. Police waited outside and confronted parents who were begging them to enter when reports of a gun at the school were made, instead of rushing in to protect the children and staff. The parents were threatened with arrest and one cop brandished a stun gun as they tried to get to the school to save their kids.

Police at the scene acted as they usually do, in accordance with standard policing practice: Rather than risk a hail of gunfire to stop the killer, they kept themselves safe.

Angeli Rose Gomez was handcuffed after she urged the police to enter the building. She ran into the school to grab her kids and bring them out to safety, which is the job of the police. Some officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety ran into the school to grab their own children, according to one lieutenant.

40 minutes after the first shots were reported, the Border Patrol's tactical team was able to engage and kill the shooter, but they were not able to break down the door of the classroom where he was holed up. A staff member had to open it. When a little girl yelled "if you need help", the man in the room immediately shot her.

The police failed at protecting the school, but we should not think that this is an example of the cops failing at their jobs. Police at the scene acted as they usually do, in accordance with standard policing practice, rather than risk a hail of gunfire to stop the killer.

The number of school shootings has increased over the last two decades as the number of school resource officers has ballooned. There is no evidence that police can stop these shootings.

The behavior of the police at Robb Elementary is shocking if you believe in a mythic notion of what policing entails. The thin blue line does not separate society from violent chaos. Since the birth of municipal policing in slave patrols and colonial counterinsurgencies, this has never been what police do. The thin blue line separates those who are allowed by the state to uphold racial capitalism with violence and those who are not.

It's disgusting that police officers would sooner handcuff parents than they would run in and save their children from a massacre. It is striking that so many people have been told that policing is a myth perpetuated by the police themselves, by those in power, and by the mainstream culture.

Police propaganda relies on the repetition of lies.

Being a police officer is not one of the most dangerous jobs in the US. The coronaviruses have been the leading cause of death among cops for the last two years.

Most crimes are solved by cops. Only a small percentage of major crimes are solved by police. The New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy was found to be not committing any crime by almost all of the Black people it stopped. There isn't much evidence that police surveillance reduces or prevents crime. Poverty and the communities of color forced to live in it are criminalized by policing.

In the last month, the NYPD failed to capture two people who shot up the subway system. The first shooter was taken into custody after a civilian spotted him and helped the police destroy the homeless camp.

What are cops doing? The social media posts of the Uvalde Police Department show that the Texas cops spend a lot of their time arresting and caging desperate men, women, and people of questionable morals.

The Supreme Court affirmed in 2005 that police departments are not obligated to protect the public. Our tax dollars are spent on things other than safety, and it's not what we pay for. The two teachers who died trying to protect children were the ones who put their bodies in the line of fire.

Patrick Blanchfield, author of the forthcoming Gunpower: The Structure of American Violence, noted on the internet that the U.S. police are trained to maximize control over situations while minimizing their personal risk. That means beating parents while a rampage shooter executes their children just as easily as it does their rolling up on a kid with a toy guy and executing him.

The police in the Uvalde school district had both funding and training.

Those of us who have been calling for the de funding of police departments have been treated as fanatical by both Democrats and Republicans. In the face of decades of evidence exposing what the work of policing actually entails, the true ideologues are those who are committed to policing as a social solution.

It should not take an event so devastating — with police behavior so counter to the task of saving lives — to break the spell of policing mythology.

It wouldn't be right for those in power to be misled by copaganda. The institution of policing defends property, power, and racial hierarchy, and they make clear that they too uphold that.

The police response to this latest massacre of children is drawing ire. That alone is not likely to change the political will to break the myth of policing. The lionization of the police is as deep seated as any American ideology and resistant to being buckled under its own contradictions. The country was founded on genocide, slave labor, and universalist claims of equality for all. It should come as no surprise that there are violent contradictions.

Those who have dismissed calls to defund the police should question their own convictions about policing. It shouldn't take an event with police behavior so counter to the task of saving lives to break the spell of policing mythology.