Hello from St. Paul,
On September 8, disturbing video from Mankato showed a high school student getting beaten by two others. This high school was later placed on lockdown that day and police were called.
This high school normally would have a school resources officer (SRO) on duty to stop violent outbreaks like this, but law enforcement recently pulled that individual due to concerns over a new law that many believe could put an officer at risk for legal action if he or she misapplied the new policy.
Mankato isn’t alone. The law approved last session has left dozens of Minnesota schools without SROs to protect students and teachers when violent situations arise. In short, the policy changes what SROs are allowed to do to de-escalate aggressive situations, taking away tools they can use to keep students and teachers safe.
Over the years, therapists, psychologists, and law enforcement have developed techniques and procedures to deal with individuals having mental health or behavioral issues in a way that not only protects their safety but those around them. Without some of these techniques the safety of surrounding students and teachers could be threatened. In addition, the new law isn’t clear on what is actually allowed and what isn’t, making it impossible for SROs to perform their duty.
In response, over 40 law enforcement agencies have pulled SROs from Minnesota schools.
This is extremely unfortunate. The very lawmakers who pushed for defunding the police and letting criminals out of jail early have painted law enforcement as dangerous and are justifying why this law is in place. Every situation that involves violent and disruptive behavior is different and all the tools to deal with it need to be available. Law enforcement is trained for just that situation.
Legislative Republicans are pushing for a special session to clarify the new SRO language, so law enforcement concerns are addressed and schools who lost their SROs can see them return.
Unfortunately, Democrats – who control the governor’s office and the state legislature – aren’t on board with this idea. In fact, 44 Democrat lawmakers recently stated they do not support a special session to address the SRO problems, and Governor Walz said a special session isn’t necessary. Remember the legislature won’t be back into session for almost 6 months, while schools are stuck in this uncertain situation.
I’m hoping the governor is willing to buck the wants of the anti-police portion of his caucus and will call a special session. As a former teacher, he should understand the need for student and teacher safety and let the legislature correct and clarify this new law. Then, we just need a handful of common-sense Democrats who recognize that student and teacher safety is a top priority and join with Republicans to make necessary changes to the newly-created school resources officer law.
School safety should not be a political football. I don’t want to see a student or teacher mauled and then have the video splashed across every newscast before short-sighted lawmakers choose to act.
Have a good weekend,