Worries over licenses create new guidance on SROs
There is new advice from the state’s largest association representing law enforcement on handling school resource officers (SROs) regarding licensing concerns.
In a letter addressed to its members, general counsel for the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) Imran Ali offers “new guidance” from the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST Board).
The letter reads in part, “Now, the new guidance from the POST Board makes it clear that SRO conduct could result in serious sanctions on your license.”
It also recommends members check with union representatives about options to “not work any assignment under a school district’s contractual agreement.”
The letter was sent following weeks of confusion and concerns from some law enforcement agencies and legislators surrounding a new law limiting the restraints SROs can use on students.
So far, more than 30 law enforcement agencies have pulled out of schools, fearing potential legal action.
Earlier this week 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke to Minnesota House of Representatives speaker, DFL representative Melissa Hortman who’s said she’s been part of talks, working to clear things up.
“I do think taking a look at the state law and having conversations with individuals has really furthered understanding,” Hortman said as she stood firm about the clarity of the way the law is written.
“There’s a tremendous amount of law in the state of Minnesota, and we work hard to make sure that it is as clear as it can be,” Hortman said. “But, there’s a whole lot of lawyers in the state, and a whole judicial system to deal with people who can find arguments to say something is ambiguous when they would like to.”
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also reached out to the POST Board about MPPOA’s letter and received the following response:
“To be clear, the POST Board did NOT raise concerns about this. The Board was asked for an opinion about whether or not, in addition to possible criminal or civil sanctions, a violation of the newly worded statute COULD be a potential violation of the Board’s standards of conduct. It does appear that a violation of the statute could fall under POST licensure jurisdiction. As with any action taken by the POST Board, each case and circumstance is fact-specific so there is no guarantee that there would be or would not be licensing sanctions imposed, only that they are possible.”Erik Misselt, Executive Director, POST Board
The calls for a special session to address this have been met with mixed reactions from lawmakers, with Governor Tim Walz continuing to mention he’s open to the idea.
Both he and Attorney General Keith Ellison have said the new law still provides exceptions for SRO to use “reasonable force” to prevent any “bodily harm or death.”