Minn. to clarify new rules for SROs after receiving concerns from officers

The language of the new law states SROs are prohibited from using certain types of restraints when trying to control unruly students


By Sarah Roebuck

NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. — A new Minnesota law prohibits school resource officers from “using prone restraint and comprehensive restraint on the head, neck and across most of the torso” when trying to control unruly students, according to the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and other law enforcement officials expressed concern in a letter over the new law, which was adopted last week, KSTP reports.

As a result, Gov. Tim Walz said the state will offer clarification on the law. The governor stated that state legal experts have affirmed to him that the revisions do not constitute complete prohibitions. Instead, they permit school resource officers to utilize specific restraints if the situation’s severity justifies their application.

“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 are exceptions for health and safety of students and the officers, just like there is for everything,” Walz told KSTP.

According to Rosemount Police Chief Mike Dahlstrom, he believes that the revisions prohibit techniques that “actually make situations safer” in various scenarios. This has caused some uncertainty about how officers should handle specific situations.

“And, if an SRO has to break up a fight amongst students, the new law is unclear on how the officer should defuse the situation,” Dahlstrom told KSTP.

The Brooklyn Park Police Department serves in school resource programs within the Osseo and Anoka-Hennepin School Districts. Brooklyn Park Police Chief Mark Bruley mentioned that certain departments have opted not to reintroduce their SROs, a choice he said 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,” Bruley told KSTP.

A representative from the Minnesota Department of Education also released a statement, indicating that districts will receive further 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.”

On Monday, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association met privately with the Minnesota attorney general to address concerns regarding the new law, primarily the language in the law that states SROs are prohibited from “the use of prone restraints and the use of compression restraints on the head, back and across most of the torso.”