Law Tips – ILU Part 3: Criminal Law You Should Know, School Resource Officers

Being aware of the changes in the criminal law area is often in the best interest of everyone. Fortunately, Larry A. Landis, Executive Director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, shares his expertise as an ICLEF faculty member. Case in point, his recent informative presentation on an array of new crimes and penalty enhancements in Indiana as a result of case law and legislative activity. Larry’s criminal law session is a portion of this years 35th Annual Indiana Law UpdateTM seminar.

Mr. Landis has generously agreed to participate in Law Tips this week by sharing one of his legislative topics that touches a broad segment of Indiana citizens, Senate Enrolled Act 1. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the effects of this bill pertaining to School Resource Officers (SRO). In his comments he points out: “This new statute potentially makes significant changes to the current practice of SROs in schools. It defines SROs as LEOs for purposes of the disarming LEO statute and for purposes of the resisting arrest statute (with the specific exclusion of a resisting charge based on fleeing).”

Following is the statute’s description: Defines “School Resource Officers” and establishes a matching grant program to assist school corporations in hiring the officers. Requires SROs to receive the same training as Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) plus an additional 40 hours of specific training.

Larry Landis’s summary of the outcome of Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 1 is as follows:

SEA 1 gives SROs authority to:

  1. make an arrest
  2. conduct a search or seizure using the reasonable person standard
  3. carry a firearm on or off school property, and
  4. exercise other police powers re: enforcement of Indiana laws.

His further discussion of SEA 1:

  • Defines SROs as LEOs for the purposes of the disarming a LEO statute and for the purposes of the resisting arrest statute (with the specific exclusion of a resisting charge based on fleeing).
  • This new statute potentially makes significant changes to current practice of SROs in schools.
  • SROs and LEOs are treated differently re: lawful authority to stop, detain, question, and search students.
  • SROs acting as agents of school for disciplinary purposes are not subject to restrictions of Fourth Amendment search and seizure protections placed on LEOs who are taking police action.

Since 1985, case law has clarified that SROs acting as agents of a school for disciplinary purposes may:

  • stop a student to demand identification,
  • conduct pat-down of student without warrant or articulable suspicion;
  • search lockers without probable cause;
  • conduct dog sniffs in school parking lots without probable cause;
  • seize a student on an uncorroborated anonymous tip without reasonable articulable suspicion; and
  • question a student without Miranda warnings being given.

SEA 1 Blurs the lines:

  • SEA 1 blurs the lines between SROs and LEOs by authorizing SROs to wear both hats and switch hats if they decide to make an arrest for resisting law enforcement
  • If SRO makes an arrest they should be held to LEO standards for the Fourth and Fifth Amendment purposes.

IC 35-44.1-3-1, Resisting law enforcement:

  • New (f) A person may not be charged or convicted of a crime under subsection (a) (3) if the LEO is a SRO acting in the officer’s capacity as a SRO.
  • (a) (3) flees from LEO after the officer has, by visible or audible means, including operation of LEO’s siren or emergency lights, identified himself or herself and ordered the person to stop.

I am appreciative of Larry Landis providing this beneficial criminal law analysis for Law Tips.  The thorough examination of current case law and legislative activity by Mr. Landis is available in your neighborhood as a part of ICLEF’s  35th Annual Indiana Law UpdateTM seminar.  Take a look at the ICLEF calendar for a date that fits your needs or Click Here.


Our Law Tips faculty participant:
Larry A. Landis graduated for IU School of Law-Indianapolis in 1973. His first job as a lawyer was as a deputy state public defender. He was appointed the training director of the Indiana Public Defender Council when it was created in 1977. He has been the Executive Director since 1980. He has conducted over 250 seminars and workshops, published six manuals and numerous articles on criminal defense and has lectured extensively nationally on a variety of criminal justice topics. Larry drafted the legislation that created the Indiana Public Defender Commission in 1989 and serves as an advisor to the Commission. He works with the Indiana General Assembly on all criminal and juvenile justice bills.

About our Law Tips blogger:
Nancy Hurley, Law Tips blogger, has long-standing connections with Indiana lawyers. She was formerly a member of the ISBA and IBF staffs for over 30 years. Nancy’s latest lifestyle venture is with ICLEF. We are utilizing her exceptional writing and interviewing skills while exploring how her Indiana-lawyer background fits with ICLEF’s needs. When she isn’t ferreting out new topics for Law Tips, her work can be found in our Speaker Spotlight blogs, postings on the ICLEF Facebook and Twitter pages, and other places her legal experience lends itself.

Thank you for reading Law Tips. You may subscribe to this weekly blog through the RSS link at the top of this page. Also, you are encouraged to comment below or email Nancy. She welcomes your input as she continues to sift through the treasure trove of knowledge of our CLE faculty to share with you on Law Tips.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Leave a Reply