MN school resource officers: Bill aims to clarify law

A proposal aimed at clarifying the school resource officers (SROs) law will be up for discussion in the Minnesota House of Representatives' Education Policy Committee on Monday — the first day of the 2024 legislative session. This comes after controversy last fall over changes to the law led to some departments pulling their officers from Minnesota schools due to confusion over a new law that guides the use of force

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The current SRO law limits when officers are allowed to restrain students. A bill, proposed by Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL-New Hope), would modify the grounds for the use of reasonable force in schools, establish minimum training requirements for SROs, and require the development of a school resource officer model, among other things. You can read the full text of the proposed bill here

The House Education Policy Committee will discuss the bill on Monday at 4 p.m.

Efforts to clarify the SRO law

A special session wasn't called last year to clarify the law. However, Attorney General Keith Ellison issued guidance on the law in late September, saying the new amendments allow for officers to engage in physical contact if they are preventing bodily harm or death. The changes only prevent the use of certain restraints outlined in the law, including the prone restraint. Restrictions on the use of the prone position have become a focus following the death of George Floyd.

That opinion was enough for some agencies to reverse course and put officers back into schools. But, most of the agencies that had pulled their officers weren't satisfied.

Last week, Rep. Frazier and Sen. Bonnie Westlin (DFL-Plymouth) announced the latest legislation intended to "provide the clarity law enforcement agencies and school districts sought last fall regarding the use-of-force standard."

The new changes appear to strip out references to school resource officers and police concerning the restrictions on the use of force and prone restraints. But, it also mandates training for anyone who serves as an officer in Minnesota schools.