First Week Without Resource Officers Sees Massive Fight in Minnesota

( – Minnesota schools are finding out the hard way what happens when resource (police) officers are removed from their campuses. No one was available to restore order when two recent brawls broke out at Mankato East High School and what unfolded may be a sign of what lies in store for the state.

Administrators at the HS could do nothing but place their facilities on lockdown for about 30 minutes until the in-progress melee ended. Students in the halls captured much of the pummeling on cellphones and videos of the violence were uploaded to the internet where they quickly gained traction.

Two separate lockdowns took place at the campus in just the first four days of the academic year. Mankato proper is not an inner-city jurisdiction like one might find in Minneapolis and the town only has a population of 44,000. The district’s lack of school resource officers is a policy that is playing out across much of Minnesota.

Although a new state law does not specifically ban the employment of SROs, the new legislation does limit what kinds of physical restraints those officers can use. As a result, the police agencies from which the SROs are drawn are choosing to remove their officers from the equation altogether rather than face lawsuits and possible criminal charges should they have to use physical force when dealing with an unruly student.

Dawanna Witt, the Sheriff of Minnesota’s Hennepin County, said she consulted on the issue with a number of different attorneys. All of them “were unanimous” in their opinions that a restraint or an attempt at de-escalation on the part of an officer could lead to prosecution.

While some police departments in the state have chosen to allow their officers to continue working in schools despite the new legislation, other departments have been forced out entirely. Many districts voted to completely remove SROs from their schools after the death of George Floyd.

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