Thu, Sep 14, 2023 7:43 AM
By Scott McClallen, The Center Square
Minnesota law enforcement groups and Republican lawmakers called on Gov. Tim Walz to start a legislative special session on school resource officers after a video of a fight at Mankato East High School was posted to social media.
A new law restricts SROs from pinning a student face-down and bans holds that restrict the ability to breathe, communicate distress, or place pressure on a head, neck, throat, chest or other areas. The bill was part of the education package.
In response to the law, many law enforcement agencies are pulling SROs from schools.
Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, said without SROs in schools, “students are sitting ducks from attacks by fellow students or others entering schools intending harm."
“The disturbing video from Mankato East High School should be ringing all the alarms in the governor’s office to call a special session to fix this language,” Limmer said in a statement. “How many more kids need to be attacked before Walz realizes the only fix is through the legislature?”
Limmer is the Lead Republican on the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and compared the strategy of restricting holds available to SROs to the defunding of the police movement.
Walz’s office hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association General Counsel Imran Ali said the law creates two standards – one for a school district contracted peace officers and one for those who aren’t.
“SROs will now be forced to react to situations in ways that are contrary to their training and department policy, leading to unsafe situations for students, staff and the SROs themselves,” Ali said in a statement. “SROs also face increased risk of civil and criminal liability because of the uncertainty in the law.”
The Minnesota House People of Color and Indigenous Caucus supports the bill restricting SRO holds and restraints.
“As the attorney general made clear in his guidance on the issue, this restriction does not apply when used to prevent bodily harm or death, and the test for reasonable force is unchanged by the new law,” the group said in a statement. The attorney general also made clear that holds used in emergency situations will not subject SROs or other staff to liability.”
The POCI caucus said the rule allows schools and communities to choose whether they want SROs.
Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Executive Director Brian Peters called on Walz to activate a special session to change the law.
“We need to get school resource officers back in schools to help increase school safety,” Peters said in a statement. “There are enough votes at the Minnesota Legislature to repeal the law. Governor: let’s get it done.”