Rep. Murphy along with Sen. Rasmusson and Rep. Backer meet with area law enforcement following the removal of the Underwood school resource officer
St. Paul – Minnesota has recently seen more than a dozen police departments announce the removal of their school resource officer (SRO) due to uncertainty surrounding a change to a statewide school discipline law. This includes Otter Tail County Sherriff’s Office announcement on Wednesday, Aug. 30, that they will remove their SRO from Underwood School District. The Echo Press also recently reported that Alexandria's school resource officer program is in jeopardy due to this change.
In response, Rep. Tom Murphy (R-Underwood), Senator Jordan Rasmusson (R-Fergus Falls), and Rep. Jeff Backer (R- Browns Valley) today met with area law enforcement and school officials to discuss the law that is causing the removal of SROs from public schools.
“Resource Officers play a pivotal role in keeping our students and staff safe,” Rep. Tom Murphy said. “they build a repour in the school community that helps put students on the path to success. We need the governor to call a special session so we can all come back to St. Paul and fix this immediately.”
The new law at issue, which passed as a portion of a larger education bill, changes how SROs can operate and use force in the course of their jobs. When this legislation moved through the Senate Education Policy Committee, Republicans voiced their strong concerns with this policy change and urged Democrats to talk with SROs about it. However, Democrats chose to ignore the issues raised and pushed it through without feedback from law enforcement.
“Until our law enforcement agencies receive clarity on this new law, even more of our school resource officer programs will be suspended,” Senator Rasmusson said. “Democrats fully understood that this policy change would restrict what our SROs do in schools, and we are now seeing the consequences of their actions. Our SROs are critical to ensuring a safe learning environment for our students, and we must find an immediate solution that allows them to do their jobs effectively. I will continue to work with our local law enforcement and school districts as we find a solution that ensures the safety of our students, teachers, school administrators and staff.”
Additionally, legislative Republicans recently held a press conference and proposed a bipartisan bill to fix the recent change in law that is causing the removal of SROs from public schools. In attendance were Blaine Police Chief Brian Podany and Centennial Schools Superintendent Jeff Holmberg who shared their concerns about how this change is impacting safety for students and staff as the school year begins.
The bill simply repeals the recent law change eliminating prone restraints or physical holds and repeals the change to use of force standards to revert back the original language that was in statute. The change does not impact the 2021 bill that banned all neck and chokehold restraints and remains in place for students and all Minnesotans.
The proposed solution also includes a letter requesting Governor Walz to consider a special session to make necessary changes to the law.