Brooklyn Park Police Department suspends SRO program over new law

Another police department has decided it can’t abide by a new state law that restricts what types of restraints school resource officers can use on students.

The Brooklyn Park Police Department said Thursday it will no longer assign officers to school campuses and will instead have them patrol the surrounding neighborhoods.

“Since the beginning of the school year, our SROs have encountered a series of challenging incidents that have compelled us to reassess our ability to provide this service effectively,” the police department said in a statement. “While our dedicated SROs have consistently displayed professionalism and dedication in responding to these incidents, it has become evident that the lack of clarity surrounding the recent changes in the law has created an untenable and unsustainable working environment for them.”

This spring, the Minnesota Legislature amended the language in state law governing the use of force in schools by district staff and police officers who are contracted to work in schools. The new wording prohibits restraints that place students in a prone position, restrict breathing or place pressure on the head, neck and most of the torso.

Despite receiving guidance from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison stating that officers can still use “reasonable force” to prevent injuries or death, law enforcement groups argue the law in its current form impedes officers’ ability to lawfully intervene when students act erratically — including placing them in handcuffs.

At least 32 law enforcement agencies have so far said they will discontinue their SRO programs until the law is changed.

Republicans and law enforcement agencies have called for a special session to clarify the law. Meanwhile, a faction of DFL lawmakers vocalized their opposition to changing the law in any form; Gov. Tim Walz has said he remains open to a special session but would prefer to avoid one.