Ramsey County Sheriff pulls school resource officers
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, one day before the start of school Tuesday, that he is pulling his six school resource officers out of their respective schools.
Fletcher said it’s in response to “uncertainty” surrounding the interpretation of a new state law that prohibits the use of prone restraint, or any restraint involving the head, neck and most of the torso area of an unruly student.
“Children Tuesday won’t have the same resources at their disposal in schools,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher told KSTP the use of a prone restraint is something law enforcement officers do on a regular basis because, he said, it is a method they train for and is safe and effective.
“It’s standard operating procedure for law enforcement and has been — and needs to be,” said Fletcher. “Because trying to restrain someone while they’re on their feet, or roaming around a school thrashing around, breaking things — it is impossible.”
Fletcher said he and other law enforcement leaders are continuing their efforts to get Gov. Tim Walz and the legislature to convene a special legislative session to clarify the law.
“We’re asking the Governor, I think the Governor needs to call a special session to clear this up,” said Fletcher. “I am confident the Governor, once he reviews this, will say it is time for a special session.”
Last Tuesday, Gov. Walz told KSTP the Minnesota Attorney General had already offered an opinion on the new law and said it did not prevent law enforcement from using restraints when great bodily harm, or death, was imminent.
“The Attorney General has said, ‘Look if it’s life or death of the officer, the teacher or the student, do what you need to do on that.'”
And, State Senator Erin Maye Quade also said last week the law is “very clear” and was not convinced a special session was needed.
“Agents of school districts, every person in a school district including school resource officers, but also teachers, parents and staff are not allowed to use holds that impair a child’s ability to breathe or communicate distress,” said Maye Quade.
Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives Melissa Hortman also said in a statement: “We all want a safe and healthy learning environment for Minnesota students and school staff. This is an important policy discussion about safety and the appropriate use of force in our schools. House and Senate leaders are continuing to have conversations with members, stakeholders, and the Governor about this issue and how to best address it.”
In addition, Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic stated: “Our top priority is for our students to successfully learn and that requires a safe and healthy environment for students and staff in the schools. We are continuing to have discussions with our members, stakeholders, and the Governor’s office about the specific 2023 policy changes around use of force in our schools and school safety generally.”