House set to take up bill on first day of session that seeks to clarify SRO law

Republicans have indicated they support the proposed fix after several law enforcement agencies pulled their SROs from schools last fall.

Republican legislators and police leaders hold a press conference at the Minnesota Capitol in August calling for changes to the SRO law. (Minnesota Senate Media Services/YouTube)

One of the first items that Democrats and Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives will take up as the 2024 legislative session begins Monday is a proposed fix to legislation that went into effect last August that has impacted the status of school resource officers in schools across the state.

At 4 p.m. on Monday the House Education Policy Committee will hold a hearing on a bill sponsored by Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, that will amend a number of sections in the law that governs use-of-force restrictions within schools.

Last August, a number of police departments, county sheriffs and law enforcement associations spoke out against the changes, which largely flew under the radar during the 2023 legislative session and were swept into an omnibus education bill.

“Safe schools are the foundation for a well-educated society,” Frazier said in a statement earlier this week on his proposal. “This bill brings together educators, law enforcement, and advocates to strike a balance between safety and rights, ensuring every child has access to a world-class education in a secure and supportive environment.”

Frazier said the bill clarifies the law regarding the use of force in schools “and retains the limitation on the use of chokeholds that applies to all peace officers in Minnesota Statute 609.06.”

“It creates a statutory definition for School Resource Officers and requires a statewide standard of the basic training required for SROs,” Frazier said. “To minimize harmful, disparate engagements between SROs and students, the legislation also expressly prohibits SROs from being used to deliver discipline for violation of school policies.”

The amendments included in the bill delete language from existing sections on use-of-force restrictions in school to no longer specifically reference school resource officers and police.

The legislation also proposes to create a model school resource officers policy for the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board.

Sen. Bonnie Westlin, DFL-Plymouth, is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, which Republicans appear to be backing. The Senate version of the bill doesn’t yet have a date set for its first committee hearing.

“After spending all summer accusing Republicans of manufacturing the School Resource Officer issue for political reasons, I’m genuinely happy to see that Democrats are finally joining us and admitting that the law they passed last year needs to be fixed,” said Sen. Zach Duckworth, R-Lakeville, who last summer helped organize a press conference with a number of law enforcement leaders from across the state to ask Gov. Tim Walz to call a special session to fix the issues with the bill.

A number of police departments and sheriff’s offices made the decision to pull their SROs from schools for fear of liability — under the new law — should they be faced with a situation where they had to apply use of force inside the school.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to have open and transparent bill hearings in the appropriate committees of both the House and Senate where we can hear from all of the stakeholders who are urging that a correction to the law be passed as quickly as possible,” Duckworth said this week. “I expect that much of the misinformation and politically motivated criticism of law enforcement will be corrected with their testimony and expert feedback regarding the bill.”


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.