Concerns grow amid questions of how much force school resource officers can use

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There are questions and growing concerns over how much force school resource officers are allowed to use when restraining students.

Wednesday, lawmakers from across the state came together to discuss how this has been working in schools. Hermantown senator Grant Hauschild attended that meeting.

Representative Hauschild held a roundtable discussion with law enforcement, SRO officers and school administrators to talk about their concerns that they have seen.

Hermantown Police Chief Jim Crace says this is really affecting operations. “Our SRO’s have to call for backup when they encounter an issue that could be otherwise easily resolved. We are pulling officers patrolling other areas when something at a school does happen. It scares the kids and faculty.”

There were other points made by school administration at tonight’s round table. Hermantown Superintendent Wayne Whitwam says what he is most concerned about is teacher who deal with younger students, like four and five year old’s. Under the new statute, even teachers can’t grab a kid by their arm to lead them away from conflict with other children.

Duluth Police Chief Mike Ceynowa said there are 4,000 students in the Duluth Public School system, district wide around 8,000. “The need for officers in our schools is there.”

Ceynowa also mentioned that these SRO’s are often parental figures in students lives. “SRO’s have a relationship with the students they work with. It’s better for an officer who knows the student to perform necessary restraints rather than an officer who has no experience with that child.”

Ceynowa mentioned how these relationships keep everyone safe, not just students but also faculty and the officers themselves.

Hauschild did mention that Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison have been open to further discussions. New tonight, Ellison made another round of clarifying adjustments to the language of the statues.