Plan to Eliminate State Funding for Minnesota School Resource Officers Reversed

March 13, 2018 10:43 PM

A proposed Senate bill that would have eliminated state funding for police officers in school districts across the state has been reversed.

State Senator Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis, changed her bill just two hours before the start of its first hearing Tuesday in front of the Education Policy Committee.

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KSTP first aired a story Sunday night, detailing the bill's intention to cut the funding through the Safe Schools Levy, which also had support from the Minneapolis Chapter of the NAACP.

State Senator, Dave Osmek, R-Orono, called the idea one of the "more patently dumb bills in the 2018 session" Sunday night.

RELATED: Senate Bill Would Eliminate State Funding for School Resource Officers

President of the Minneapolis NAACP Leslie Badue said the presence of school officers does not always mean the schools will be safer for every student.

"We know that students of color have a much different experience with school resource officers than non-minority students," Badue said. "We think taking money that's paid for school resource officers can be used in other ways to make schools safe, such as mental health intervention and counseling."

Torres Ray said Tuesday she decided to change the language of her bill when she heard from a lot of people who wanted to keep resource officers in schools. She amended her proposed bill to cut only the officers' transportation costs from the levy.

"It is a tough problem, because the Safe Schools Levy does not have enough funding to afford all the school safety measures we have in this legislative session," Torres Ray said. "But if we take out transportation costs, it would give the school districts more money and the option to hire people for mental health intervention, such as counselors and social workers."

RELATED: Changes to School Resource Officer Program Under Consideration in St. Paul

Senator Gregory Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, expressed concern with the amended version of the Torres Ray bill.

"It would really cause a lot of confusion and difficulty for school districts and communities across the state," Clausen said.

His committee colleague, Senator Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, also opposed the new language in the bill and said the timing was bad.

"We need to get the conversation back on to safe schools, rather than reducing the help of law enforcement," Utke said.

The bill was held over for further action, but it has not received a new hearing date.

 

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Jay Kolls

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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