Walz says state will clarify new rules for school resource officers after receiving concerns from police

School resource officer law

School resource officer law

A day after the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and other local law enforcement officials expressed concern about a new law regarding school resource officers, the governor says the state will offer clarification.

During a press conference Wednesday on direct tax rebates, Gov. Tim Walz confirmed he did receive the police chiefs’ letter and discussed the law with state lawyers.

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

The Chiefs of Police Association told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Tuesday that the new law prohibits school resources officers from “using prone restraint and comprehensive restraint on the head, neck and across most of the torso.” Rosemount Police Chief Mike Dahlstrom added that he believes the changes outlaw methods “that actually make situations safer,” leading to some confusion over how officers should address certain situations.

The Brooklyn Park Police Department serves in the school resource programs in both Osseo and Anoka-Hennepin School Districts. Police Chief Mark Bruley said some departments don’t plan to send their SROs back, a decision he says he still needs to make. 

“I have eight school resource officers, several of them have said they’re not comfortable going back to school. This new law concerns them. If they make a mistake, they get criminally charged,” said Brooklyn Park Police Chief Mark Bruley. 

“The law is written to provide, there’s exceptions to student health, risk to them, risk to the police, so it is not being interpreted correctly in that they certainly have the authority to do that,” Walz said Wednesday. “I certainly think we should all agree that we should not kneel on the necks of students unless someone’s life is at risk and that is written into the law to be able to do that.”

The governor said state lawyers confirmed to him that the updates aren’t total bans and allow school resource officers to still use certain restraints if the level of seriousness warrants them.

“Yeah, we’ll clarify that the law . . . and I asked for my team to read me the law and the interpretation with the attorneys down there and there’s exceptions for health and safety of students and the officers, just like there is for everything,” Walz added.

A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Education also issued a statement Tuesday night, saying districts will receive clarification from the state.

“Minnesota schools are places where every student should feel safe and supported, which may include collaboration and a working relationship with their local law enforcement agency. We know the safety and security of all people in our schools is a priority.

“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.

“MDE will provide clarification and information to school districts and will work to help provide understanding of the practical application of the new law.”

Minnesota Department of Education spokesperson

The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association released a letter to its members Wednesday regarding the new school resource officer law. Read the letter below: