At least three more police agencies have announced within the last week that they are suspending their school resource officer (SRO) programs in response to a new state law.
The new law, passed during the 2023 legislative session, prohibits SROs in cases where there is no threat of bodily harm or death from using the prone restraint or any force that “places pressure or weight on a pupil’s head, throat, neck, chest, lungs, sternum, diaphragm, back, or abdomen.”
Gov. Tim Walz told MPR News Sept. 8 that he was not prepared to call a special session on the issue, saying police and schools were “getting enough clarity.”
Maple Grove Police Chief Eric Werner said the new law created two sets of standards for police officers.
“It is unreasonable that a highly trained veteran officer assigned as an SRO is now required to stand by and call a patrol officer to perform the duties they have trained for years to perform. The use of force in the school environment is extremely low,” he said. “However, when split second decisions occur, SROs must be able to intervene and de-escalate a situation to keep students and school staff safe.”
Brooklyn Park suspended its SRO program after a Park Center Senior High School staff member was assaulted during a fight last week, according to reports.
“This is not a partisan issue. I am hearing from parents, teachers, school board members, law enforcement and others in the community who value the role of SROs in our schools. Everyone wants this fixed. Governor Walz should call the Legislature back into Special Session so we can provide the needed clarity in statute so our students, teachers, and staff all can have a great school year,” Rep. Kristin Robbins, R-Maple Grove, said in a statement.
A total of at least 19 agencies have suspended their SRO programs.
Update: The New Hope Police Department announced Tuesday that it will no longer provide SRO services to Cooper High School.
This article originally appeared at Alpha News and was reprinted with permission.