Governor Signs Legislation Affecting SRO, Law Enforcement Officer, and School Security Personnel Interviews of Students

On August 23, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 2627, which affects law enforcement interviews of students suspected of criminal behavior.  The law takes effect immediately. 

            The law affects only school resource officers (SROs), law enforcement officers, and school security personnel.  School principals, assistant principals, deans, and other administrators may continue with their practices regarding interviews with students. 

            Under the new law, before detaining and questioning a student who is on school grounds and who is seventeen years of age or younger who is suspected of committing a criminal act, SROs, law enforcement officers, and school security personnel must 1) ensure that notification or attempted notification of the student’s parent or guardian is made; and 2) document the time and manner in which the notification or attempted notification was made.  In this context, “school grounds” is limited to the regular hours in which school is in session and when students are present.   

            Before questioning the student about suspected criminal behavior (e.g. weapons, drugs, violence, gang activity, etc.), SROs, law enforcement officers, or school security personnel must make reasonable efforts to ensure that the student’s parent or guardian is present during questioning.  Should the parent or guardian not be present during questioning, SROs, law enforcement officers, or school security personnel must ensure that school personnel, including, but not limited to, a school social worker, a school psychologist, a school nurse, a school guidance counselor, or any other mental health professional, are present during questioning.  Further, if practicable, SROs, law enforcement officers, or school security personnel must make reasonable efforts to ensure that a law enforcement officer trained in promoting safe interactions and communications with youth is present during the questioning. 

            The text of the law makes clear, however, that it does not limit the authority of a law enforcement officer to make an arrest on school grounds.  Nor does it apply to circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that urgent and immediate action is necessary to 1) prevent bodily harm or injury to the student or any other person; 2) apprehend an armed or fleeing suspect; 3) prevent the destruction of evidence; and/or 4) address an emergency or other dangerous situation. 

            Please be sure that your SRO and any security personnel you employ are made aware of these new requirements.  Should you have any questions or concerns regarding these new provisions, please contact your SHP attorney.