‘I think this is fixable:’ Gov. Walz Says Clarity Coming on SRO Issue
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will soon issue further clarification on when certain types of restraints by school resource officers can be used.
As it stands, the legislation says that officers, in addition to other school staff, cannot use prone restraint or other physical holds on unruly students. The statute allows the use of reasonable force to protect those in danger.
Officers across the state say they are not clear on what the definition of reasonable is. As a result, many police departments are pulling resource officers out of schools until those questions are answered.
Walz said in a news conference Tuesday that he understands where officers are coming from and is working with departments and legislators to clarify the legislation.
He said this legislation was meant to protect students at the same level across the board.
“Those students with special needs already have this in place. This was to clarify it for the entire student body, so that’s where it’s unfortunate,” Walz said. “I think these police departments that have a concern just want clarity.”
More Clarity Needed
Ellison issued a clarification in August before school began, but as the year started, local departments say they faced a number of challenges.
Plymouth pulled its officers before the school year began.
In Maple Grove, Chief Eric Werner put resource officers in schools initially. As the school year began, he made the decision to take them out, as did New Hope. The Brooklyn Park Police Department did the same following a fight at Park Center High School.
Werner said already this school year, some officers were questioning what they could and could not do. The five SROs were pulled earlier this week. They now are patrolling the area of those schools and will respond to emergency calls as needed.
He said Maple Grove’s SRO program model worked as it existed. He believes a legislative change will make him comfortable to put officers back in schools.
“I think a very clear statute change would provide that clarity for our officers,” Werner said.
Walz said he feels lawmakers are close to finding a legislative solution.
“I think this is fixable, I’m open to whatever this fix looks like,” Walz said.