Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison hopes more law enforcement agencies put school resource officers or SROs back in school after he offered two “binding” opinions that can only be overruled by a judge or the Minnesota Legislature.
Ellison said that those who interpreted a new state law passed last May as only allowing officers to restrain students in extreme circumstances are not correct.
“They’re able to use reasonable force,” he said. “That’s the simplest, most straightforward thing. It’s already in law, 609.06. And look, 609.06 is based on the U.S. Constitution.” Ellison said officers still have wide latitude to intervene and restrain students if necessary and within reason.
“My thing is if an officer is in good faith trying to break up a fight and maintain safety, that officer is in very good shape and should not worry,” Ellison said in an interview recorded for KSTP-TV.
Despite restrictions, Ellison said the ability to use “reasonable force” remains in effect even for nonviolent offenses, but adds, “I completely understand why there’s confusion.”
Several days after Ellison offered his opinion to allay concerns about the new law, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarity offered her own opinion to law enforcement in her county saying she believes school resource officers should only restrain students if they pose a risk to themselves or others.
When asked if Moriarity’s opinion confused the issue even further, he responded, “It was not helpful.”
Some school resource officers have returned to schools around the state, but others say they will remain out until the law is changed.