Plymouth To Pull Resource Officers from Schools
The Plymouth Police Department will suspend placing school resource officers inside public schools citing a law change that police say raises questions and creates uncertainties, according to a release provided by the city.
City officials say “the suspension will remain in place until the law is changed.”
The partnership between Plymouth Police and its school is historic. Officers have walked the hallways for more than 30 years.
Chief Erik Fadden said that collaboration was working.
“I would attribute that to the relationships that our school resource officers have there,” Fadden said. “They are getting ahead of issues and force is just not used that often in the schools.”
Now, they are cutting that tie.
“Its probably been one of my hardest decisions I’ve had to make as a police chief,” Fadden said.
Changes approved last legislative session in a sweeping education bill placed limits on school resource officers by prohibiting certain physical restraints they can use on students unless someone’s life was at risk. That aspect created uncertainties and liability questions for school resource officers in various situations.
“The way the law is written right now, we are unable to find a viable way for our officers to provide safe and effective service in the schools,” said Plymouth Public Safety Director Erik Fadden in a release. “The law restricts school resource officers from effectively responding during incidents, which may leave students, staff, parents and officers vulnerable to undue harm.”
Officers train across-the-board to use force in necessary circumstances. Fadden said this double-standard is confusing and could put officers at risk.
“It is not fair for our officers to put them in a situation where they are working in a school under two different standards,” Fadden said in an interview.
How it Works
On Wednesday, CCX News reported on issues facing school resource officers after speaking with police chiefs in Maple Grove and Brooklyn Park. Those chiefs shared similar concerns, but those cities will continue with their school resource officer contracts for now.
The Plymouth Police Department, meanwhile, will continue to work with Wayzata and Robbinsdale school districts to provide safety response if needed. However, it will not in a school resource officer capacity.
“When they are not responding to other calls, they are going to be in the areas of those schools,” Fadden said.
Fadden said that during the suspension, the department reassigns Plymouth school resource officers to the department’s Patrol Division. Several will be present at the schools during the day, but will not have an office space, and will dress in a standard uniform.
“It is the best solution that I feel like we could come up with that keeps our officers protected from the confusion of this law, but also keeping the schools and staff safe,” Fadden said.
“The ability to physically intervene is necessary to de-escalate situations and protect students and staff,” added Fadden in the release. “The changes in state law may make these measures illegal, and subject officers and police departments to criminal and civil liability.”
In a statement, Wayzata Schools’ superintendent said the district commits to doing all they can to keep students and staff safe.
Ultimately, Fadden said a rewrite of the law is what it will take to bring them back.
Corey Bork contributed to this report.