Citing changes in law, school resource officer to be removed from Rockford High School

The Hennepin County Sherriff’s Office said they are removing their school resource officer (SRO) from Rockford High School because of “recent amendments to statewide school discipline laws” according to a news release sent Tuesday morning.

Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt shared the following prepared statement regarding the decision:

“I believe school resource officers have incredible value in educational environments. I know from personal experience the connections and relationships that are built between the students and officers in that setting. It is my hope that we can continue to navigate the needs and concerns of community members. Unfortunately, the ambiguous limitations imposed this year are incompatible with sworn duties of a licensed peace officer. In an ideal world, there would never be a need for SROs to use physical restraint in the school environment. But when the need to respond to a serious incident arises, they need to know that they will not be held liable for appropriately fulfilling that duty.”

Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt

This latest action follows other law enforcement agencies withdrawing school resource officers after new rules in place restrict certain actions officers can take.

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The 2023 Legislature passed a law that prohibits prone restraint and other physical holds on students. However, the statute still permits the use of reasonable force to protect students and staff.

Rockford Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Ridlehoover shared the following statement in response to the decision:

“While we understand the circumstances that led to this difficult decision, it deeply saddens the school district to know that we won’t see the familiar face of our Hennepin County SRO in the halls when school starts. My experiences with SORs have been positive ones, SROs are a part of the fabric of the school. They support kids and families in difficult times and build meaningful relationships. We hope that we can welcome that back to our district soon.”

Rockford Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Ridlehoover

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The news release adds that the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office hopes that “reasonable conclusions can be reached by the state” so law enforcement can “safely and appropriately resume their roles in our schools.”

RELATED: Minnesota Chiefs Association asks Gov. Walz for clarification of new rules for school resource officers