A Message from the Chief
Aug. 29, 2023
With all of the coverage about law changes related to school resource officers (SROs), we know many parents and community members are confused about the role our officers will have inside school buildings as students return to school. When school starts next week, Coon Rapids Police will not have SROs working inside Anoka-Hennepin Schools.
The new legislative amendments that change state statute (specifically MS 121A.58 and 121A.582) limit a school resource officer’s ability to effectively respond to a variety of scenarios in a way that is consistent with law enforcement training. The new language details that SROs can only use force when there is a threat of bodily harm or death, but it does not address many other violations of state law that officers encounter every week in schools, such as a student damaging property, theft, trespassing or disorderly conduct.
It’s important to note that these amendments only limit officers that are “Agents” of the school district, which includes SROs. Our police officers will continue to respond to these situations in our schools, but they will not be stationed inside the school buildings as SROs.
We have formulated a response plan for answering calls for service at our schools and have provided the plan to Anoka-Hennepin School District. And, as always, our entire patrol division remains available to respond to all calls that are routed through 911 dispatch.
In the interest of public safety, Coon Rapids Police will have a presence at school events such as football games. This will be done independent of the school district and at our own expense to ensure the new legislative amendments do not impact our ability to safely respond to any incidents.
The Coon Rapids Police Department is dedicated to the safety of students and the community. We are proud of our long history of partnering with Anoka-Hennepin Schools – a partnership that began in 1974. We see great benefit to the relationship-building that occurs when officers work within the school buildings on a daily basis – the personal interactions with students and staff that help create a positive school community. We would like that long tradition in our community to continue. I strongly encourage state lawmakers to prioritize this issue and remove the ambiguity in the law change. Our school communities and law enforcement agencies deserve clarity. We hope that these issues can be swiftly resolved so that we may continue our effective partnership with the school district, which has lasted nearly five decades.
Chief Bill Steiner