City Government

Boise Coppers To Cut Code 3 Responses

If it seems like you can’t walk outside without hearing an emergency siren wailing, you are probably correct.

Boise coppers made more than 10,000 high speed responses in the past three years, but an estimated 38% of those adrenaline charged car races will be eliminated when a new set of rules go into effect by March 1.

Top copper Mike Masterson made a presentation to the City Council Tuesday detailing some of the reasons for cutting back on the lights and siren responses–often by two coppers at a time. The main reason is such a response is not needed and the risk to other motorists is too great to continue the practice.

Currently 911 dispatchers make the decision based on a “protocol” that is programmed into the computer aided dispatch system. Masterson and staff reviewed the types of calls and found that just on typical injury accident calls only a fraction of the calls are incapacitating injuries AND there are firemen and EMS medics also responding. So, instead of two coppers putting the pedal to the metal, only one gets the go fast assignment on injury accidents.

The new protocol is a drastic cutback on the numbers and speed of responses and should not compromise public safety in any way. One basic premise under the new plan is to “start slow” and increase use of lights and siren according to need rather than go fast “just in case.”

Here is an excerpt from the new rules:
Emergency responses shall be authorized only when one or more of the following emergency conditions exist or are believed to exist based upon reliable information:
• When the situation involves the imminent potential for serious injury or death to any person
• In order to prevent or halt a crime of violence
• When a serious public hazard exists
• When an emergency response will enhance the likelihood of apprehending a felony suspect
• When a critical incident or potentially major incident has not yet been stabilized by on-scene units

Command personnel, investigative personnel, and support staff responding to the scene of a critical or major incident shall only conduct an emergency response at the request of an officer on the scene.

In his report to the councilors, Masterson notes that liability from code 3 responses is one of the top risks for cities nationwide. Boise coppers crashed 13 times during code 3 runs over the past three years and he has increased the amount of driver training for emergency responses.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Tom Anderson
    Feb 5, 2009, 12:53 am

    I’ve always wondered why we didn’t put a thing in car radios so that the screaming siren was broadcast directly into automobiles.

    Instead, the sirens scare the bejesus out of everyone for hundreds of yards just to alert the happy motoring folks with their stereos blasting.

  2. Dunno where you get the idea two coppers show up. It’s usually anywhere from four to a dozen — and that’s when you’ve clearly told them that only one person was injured or that the only person in the vehicle is already dead, or whatever.
    Sometimes, city, county and state badges all come zooming in.

    Of course, the most famous idiocy was the slow-speed O.J. Simpson chase. If he didn’t stop for one cop behind him, he wasn’t gonna stop for 30 or 50 or however many were following him home.

    Buy, hey, these guys gotta have *some* fun.

  3. Yup Gordon. Living near my busy road, I can’t tell you how many times at 2 or 3 in the morning I’ve heard 5 or 6 or more sirens with the cops cars easily doing over 60 in a 30-zone. More often than not, the next morning when I tune in to the news to learn the juicy details of what happened, there’s nothing. Absolutely nothing newsworthy happened to warrant the call for numerous blaring speeding cop cars.

    EDITOR NOTE–Cynic, to give the coppers a little consideration: You may also have a legit complaint about the media not covering something that was indeed exciting.

  4. Rod in SE Boise
    Feb 5, 2009, 12:41 pm

    Police everywhere usually over-react to most any situation. It must be in their DNA.

  5. 1 Adam 12, 1 Adam 12, scene of crime…Organiztion exploiting tax payer funds for ADA County Courthouse Payoff…CCDC Crime in progress.

  6. This is LONG overdue.

  7. There’s the Boise Police Department for ya…it takes them this long to figure out this commonsense idea!

  8. Still, the two big benefits of being a cop are:
    1. You get to drive really fast.
    2. You can park anywhere you want to.

    So, without those recruiting lures, we’d probably have to raise taxes and pay those folks more, or something. I mean, jeeze, we’ve told them to quit beating up people and cut back on shooting people, and they’re not supposed torture to get confessions anymore.
    What else is left?

  9. High speed persuits in urban areas is a prescription for disaster. Siren noise does nothing the lights won’t do for the most part.

    Frankly, most cars have the windows up all year long and the sound isolation of cars so good the siren is virtually a useless item when you think about it. All the siren does is keep people awake and ticked off.

    We can all appreciate the need to get to a scene or crime pronto but here is a thought. How much faster will you get there by placing citizens in peril over driving there obeying the traffic laws? I would think not much time is saved, given the numbers of police vehicles on duty at any given time of day.

  10. I don’t understand all the sarcasm and negativity. The police made a change to an existing policy that was the a norm to another policy providing near the same level of service. I did not see anyone criticizing this previous policy before this came up. The police do a great job and now we get to save a few bucks.

    We should be thankful in this economy that our local and state agencies are doing a wonderful job keeping in line with falling revenues.

  11. When your daughters and mothers are getting raped, maybe the cops will observe all traffic laws and not use their annoying sirens. They can just get there when they get there. Funny how we all complain about cops until we need them, and then they didn’t get there in time.

  12. Alicia Ritter
    Feb 6, 2009, 12:02 pm

    Let’s add screeching siren overkill to the list of things to re-consider. There was a fire last night at a duplex in the north end at 1:30 am, and while I am sorry for the victims, the wailing sirens lasted a full 10 minutes. Did they send every emergency vehicle in the city limits? I like to know my tax dollars are hard at work, but this is ridiculous. Who are they alerting to get out of the way.. on small side streets…in the middle of the night?

  13. Alicia, that would be fire trucks running with there sirens on for 10 minutes. Maybe that would be an argument for the fire department.

  14. Tuang, the complaint isn’t against any indiviual officer. The complaints are against the bureaucratic function of the Boise Police Department.

  15. Tuang,

    I’ve lived here a long time and I’ve never heard of a cop busting in on a rape in progress. Most rapes are never reported because it’s usually a relative doing the raping. Homeless rapes are rarely reported and the cops don’t come running for that. How many rapists let you call 911 first?

  16. Personally, I feel it’s a Police Car doing about 45 down Emerald and Americana (30mph Zone), laughing on a cell phone, with no lights and no siren because they’re in a rush to pick-up their dry cleaning at 15th & Washington, etc., that are a bigger problem to public safety and the department’s image.

    A few years back, a Garden City Cop actually ticketed an On-Duty Boise Cop for an accident he caused because he ran a stop with no lights or siren.

    Accreditation of the Boise Police Department by CALEA [ http://www.calea.org/Online/AboutCALEA/Commission.htm ] would go a long way to bring the BPD in line with accepted policies and procedures used throughout law enforcement, along with increased citizen control and oversite.

  17. Alicia Ritter –

    For one, the response you are speaking about is by the fire department. For two, when my house is on fire, I hope every unit comes just as quick as they can. For three, when large fire trucks are going fast, (or even the speed limit for that matter) it takes them some time to stop. Since they are going to a fire, they are required to run lights/sirens. If an accident occurs, and they weren’t using lights AND sirens, guess who gets in trouble? They do. Sorry you were so disturbed. Think about the family that no longer has a home.

  18. Mike Murphy-
    BPD accreditation, that old song again? Why do you use this same OLD argument everytime BPD is in the news? Maybe you should research an actual accredited Police Department and find out what there “Accepted Policies and Procedures” are when it comes to police responses to emergency calls. Then you would be able to make an “informed” comment on BPD’s policies. In addition, BPD has not used the Dry Cleaners at 15th and Washington for almost a decade. Again, become informed…

    EDITOR NOTE–Not really on topic, but we understand the cleaners will be doing a single stop pick up and drop off at the new Sailfish location with no coppers driving to the cleaners.

  19. Dearest, Darling “T”-

    Just because it’s an “old song” doesn’t make it a bad one. The Ten Commandments are kinda old; but I hear tell they’re kinda pertinent and popular. Even today.

    As far as the 15th & Washington cleaners “incident”…

    You seem well appraised of the laundering habits of the Boise Police Department. However, while I can’t attest to the particulars of the Officer’s dirty laundry, the aforementioned incident did indeed happen about a year and a half ago and was promptly phoned in to police dispatch (non emergency line) to lodge a non-official complaint.

    It evidently bears stating – again – that I have the highest regard for police in general, and the vast majority of BPD Officers in particular.

    I do not think that the interests of good cops and the community they serve need be mutually exclusive, and happen to believe that accreditation would serve the best interests of both more effectively than the current state-of-affairs, more economically and with more teeth than the “Empire Building” at the Ombudsman’s Office.

    P.S. My “Old” argument was to disband the BPD and contract the Ada County Sheriff’s Department for police services (as is already done in other Ada County Cities); but thanks to the patient counsel of BPD Officers Casey Hancuff and Downtown’s “Officer Joe”, I came to the conclusion that that was not necessarily the best solution for our city.

  20. P.p.s. [sorry Dave],

    Though a description of an interaction with the Garden City Police Department during an odd pretext stop, this piece [ http://theboisepicayune.blogspot.com/2008/12/garden-city-police-department.html ] provides insight aplenty into the empathy and charity I have for professional law enforcement officers.

  21. Oregon Trail Heights 2008! Remember??

  22. Just a thought, but maybe a lot of you who have negative and seemingly uninformed or biased feelings about your local Police have these for another reason? I’ve never given police a reason to have a negative encounter with me other then a speeding ticket in which I was in fact speeding. My fault, not theres. So I in turn have no victimization syndrome and I won’t make one up so I can off my responsibitily on someone else. Compared to Atlanta, I think we have it preety good here.

  23. Its just typical, They want more professional police, but resent them when they do their job.

    They want more police, but resent the benifits and pay required to recruit quality people to be officers.

    They want police with more experiance, but resent the public safety retirement required to convince officers to do this job for more than 5 years.

    They want police to risk their lives for them, but resent the public safety death benifit.

    They want police to be safer, unless it adds 30 seconds to their response.

    For the record, I agree with the policy, its just the attitudes towards cops on here that irritate me.

    ANd to second what angryman said….compared to almost anywhere in the South, we have it good here.

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