MINNEAPOLIS -- Police chiefs across the state are speaking out against legislation regarding school resource officers.
Many are saying the new law regarding restraint is vague and unclear, and puts students, staff and officers in potentially dangerous situations.
"I think the biggest issue is clarity for law enforcement," Eagan Police Chief Roger New said.
With a new school year just days away, New is worried the school resource officer law could do more harm than good.
"We are not concerned whether or not we can use force. It is a big part of what we do, but it's really about our ability to respond and we can't be afraid to say we do use force, on occasion," said New.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association issued a statement saying the law is ambiguous and unclear, and does not allow SROs to intercede if a student is damaging school property or being disorderly.
"You have kids that might have some sort of mental health challenge or might have some sort of crisis going on, they simply need to be restrained from harming themselves. The way the new legislation reads, they are prohibited from stepping in and helping to restrain those kids and that happens quite frequently," said New.
Eagan has three resource officers in the district, and = New says each of them will be working inside Eagan schools when the new year begins.
Bloomington police have said the same, with Bloomington's first day of classes set for Monday. But some school resource and liaison officers have been pulled from Anoka-Hennepin Schools anduntil there's more clarity with regard to this law.
New said it's problematic that many state law enforcement leaders weren't consulted when the bill was written.
"Had we had an opportunity to have some dialogue regarding this issue, we may not be where we are at today," said New.
New said resource officers and students have been able to build positive relationships at Eagan schools.
"Our goal is to try and make our schools safe here in Eagan and throughout Dakota County and School District 196. And speaking to other chiefs, I know that's their main objective is trying to keep our schools safe," he said.
Some law enforcement leaders say one solution may be to forego resource officers and simply allow law enforcement into schools.
Attorney General Keith Ellison offered his interpretation saying the law does not limit the types of force that may be used to prevent bodily harm or death, but that force must be "reasonable" in those situations.
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