City Government

Coppers On Choppers “Have Guns Will Travel”

If you notice any Boise coppers on choppers along the scenic byways of Boise County this summer, they aren’t lost. They’re just using the City-owned uniforms and BMW motorcycles to earn a little overtime–at about $56 an hour.

It’s all part of a highway safety grant funded by U.S. taxpayers and administered by the Idaho Transportation Department Office of Highway Safety. We talked to the brass at Boise PD and they stressed the request for assistance patrolling the state highways of Boise County came from the State, not Boise PD. From their perspective they are just helping a neighbor. They didn’t apply, they were requested. Boise brass say as many as four motor officers at a time will travel to Boise County, but only when it doesn’t interfere with their City mission.

The gig runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day and total cost is $35,000. The city adds a 15% administrative fee to cover the additional retirement and benefit costs for the extra hours which brings the average rate paid to $65. The deal was approved by the entire Boise City Council.

An agreement between Boise City and the Boise County Sheriff gives Boise coppers authority to write tickets and make arrests outside the city, but the citizens of Boise accept total liability for any acts by the officers including injury to themselves or others, damage to the motorcycles–ANYTHING. There is NO BENEFIT TO THE CITIZENS OF BOISE, only risk.

Bankrupt Boise County sought help through the state transportation office which in turn came to Boise PD. The GUARDIAN talked to Idaho State Police brass about the arrangement and one commander said the ISP had not been contacted about the project aimed at enforcing a crackdown on agressive and speeding motorcycles. ISP has a fleet of motorcycles assigned to the Boise District.

“We would love to have some overtime for our guys. Instead they went to the highest paid department in the state even though our troopers have statewide authority and RESPONSIBILITY to enforce the law on state highways,” said the commander.

For Boise City taxpayers it’s a “lose-lose” proposition. We accept the liability, toss in the use of the motorcycles for free and get nothing in return. There are hundreds, if not thousands of riders who PAY to ride the Boise-Idaho City-Lowman-Horseshoe Bend-Boise loop. That’s why officialdom thinks it is worthwhile to spread some cash to rent coppers on choppers in the name of safety.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. I’m surprised Gov. Butch Otter and co. didn’t just hire Blackwater for traffic enforcement. The boys at the private prison must be whining to him about empty beds.
    Politicians love to shift taxes and call it win-win.

  2. Not to mention the coppers BMW motorcycle repair bill after the added miles.

  3. I would have to disagree that boise citizens have noting to gain. If there is a major catastrophe or event in the valley I would like to think all available resources would want to come to help, which would include the officers from Boise county. It would be nice if they have worked together in the past and know each other prior to being forced to work together.

  4. I would also think that they are up there saving the lives of fellow idahoans and maybe even boise residents by slowing them down. I think it’s a great idea. Glad to see agencies working together instead of fighting.

  5. I would have to say it sounds like a little jealousy on the part of the ISP brass to me. Just saying.

  6. We have speeders on our street every day – some doing 50 mph in a 20 mph zone. The street has kids and mothers wtih stollers and the “average” speed of all the cars is 32 mph – the AVERAGE!

    We have made calls to get BPD to come and enforce the speed limit in an effort to enable the pedestrian traffic to be safe…no luck. Now we know why – they are going to go work Boise County.

    My property taxes went up 20% THIS YEAR in an economy where the values DROPPED 30%. I have never seen a city so screwed up.

  7. Well, isn’t this special!!!!
    I will admit that the majority of tickets the BPD will write will go to Boise drivers, but $65.00/ HOUR?????
    I guess next winter when the “bankrupt” Boise County transportation crews are unable to keep county roads clear of snow, the ACHD will be equally happy to let some of the ACHD drivers get “some sugar” taking Ada County trucks to Boise County to “help out”!!!!
    I am now convinced that the entire political infrastructure in this state is certifiably insane!!!!

  8. I can’t get too excited about this. Emergency services have been providing mutual aid to outlying departments for years.

    This via a grant. The Feds are professionals when it comes to wasting money. This is small potatoes. The net effect of it will be a few extra speeding tickets.

    Big whoop.

  9. Eagle and Kuna rent the ACS. BSU rents Boise police. Certainly the precedent has been established for intergovernmental shenanigans. Not that I agree with it. (Has Eagle paid up yet, by the way?) On the other hand, &65 per hour for an officer and a BMW doesn’t seem that out of line. And, after all, someone has to pay for Boise County since they can’t or won’t on their own. And who should be surprised that one branch of ITD doesn’t consult another?

    EDITOR NOTE–You are correct. Those local units of government hire the “big brother” from the area within which they are located. In Boise County the Feds are paying for a total outsider and placing all liability on Boise CITY. No doubt about it, badges are for sale.

  10. Here’s another interesting tidbit. Boise PD or Ada County will not work crashes on Bogus Basin Rd if they occur within Boise county past milepost 9. ISP is called up and a unit must respond from the valley. (Typically a 30 – 60 minute response time) They’ll gladly take overtime to work the rest of Boise County, but don’t bother them when people start crashing on Bogus Basin anywhere near the lodge. So, if you crash your car on Bogus Basin Rd, would you like to sit there for an hour waiting for an ISP unit to show up or would you rather a city or county unit show up in half the time? Boise County would typically have to respond from the SH 55 or SH 21 area, so they’re usually not an option due to the extended response time. Not that there is normally a unit available anyway.

  11. overtime
    this is much like the idea of Boise Fire Dept (and coppers) working a second job during their 3 or 4 days off.

    One reason for time off is to recover from the stress of such jobs.

    I don’t want a BFD or BPD person responding when they are fatigued and stressed because they have been working for the past 7 days.

    Higher stress- less friendly (protect and serve). “hey I’m gonna ignore that call cuz I don’t feel like responding to a domestic”
    Higher stress- more likely to do things like shoot a kid holding an antique gun.
    Higher stress- more likely to do things like butt tazering and making bad decisions like deleting tape recordings.

    If the Boise budget is not being helped out there is no reason the Council should’ve voted for this.

    It should be ISP helping out.

  12. Grumpy ole guy
    Jun 23, 2011, 11:51 am

    Who pays the insurance for the officers and the motorcycles while engaged in this “patrol”. How are the work schedules arranged? It seems to me that the prime patrolling time in Boise County would also be the prime patrolling time in Boise City.
    I worked for years as a public employee and never qualified for overtime since I was salaried. I averaged about 46 hours a week and fairly often worked 50-54 hours a week. I was covered by workman’s compensation while so engaged; but got no extra money, therefore no extra contribution toward pension, Social Security, etc.
    I like the idea of inter-agency and inter-governmental cooperation and think that it should be encouraged. Such cooperative efforts should carry cooperative payments though, including insurance, depreciation and administrative costs and such arrangements should not come at the cost of reduced service for the entity the service.

    EDITOR NOTE–YOU pay the premium and the claim because Boise is “self insured.” A 15% admin fee covers the extra contribution to benefits including SWS and medicare and hopefully the higher retirement payment. There truly is no profit for the BPD or benefit to Boise citizens.

  13. Cyclops,
    You might recall a fews back that exact thing did happen for the Race to Robie.
    ACHD crews were used to clear the late snow and grade that dirt road – it is in Ada and Boise County.

    Guadian’s coverage of it http://boiseguardian.com/2008/03/18/achd-assets-used-for-race/

  14. eric049, I would have to disagree, I do not think the $65 per hour is for officer and bike, it is to pay for the officer only. (regular wage, plus overtime, regular fringe costs plus 15% for incremental fringe associated with the overtime) I am not sure any of the $65 is covering other costs (wear, tear and depreciation of the bike, fuel, insurance, not to mentioned the hard to quantify like officers returning to city beats not having had any recuperation on their time off). To me, this is akin to public works employees using city backhoes, dump trucks and other equipment to do side jobs in the evening and weekends (which I hear they do or have done in the recent past). While it is certainly a benefit to the employee, the tax payers are left with other risks and costs without the equal benefit in return.

    EDITOR NOTE– JJ, you are totally correct. There is no charge built into the use of the very expensive BMW motors which come out in excess of $25,000 when outfitted. Boise citizens are also paying for the gas…you also have it with regard to the 15% which covers the incremental increase in the employer portion of taxes, etc.

  15. This is just one more example of the TAXPAYERS BE DAMNED. Government has too much money if they can afford to fund this kind of screwball deal.

    I wonder just how long it will be before a Boise biker cop hit a deer or other animal on that mountain road? Who gets to pay for the lost time and medical costs for the cop.

    It is bad enough having an accident in a car but a motorcycle is a very unforgiving means of transportation.

    A set of tires for a motorcycle are just about as expensive as those for a car and they only last about 8k miles.

    This is about the worst way I can think of to enforce traffic safety.

  16. So..let me get this straight… It seems that the only time some people are willing to help out a neighbor is if there is profit in it for them?

    This really seems like a non-issue to me. Tax payers are being compensated for the time and equipment, cops get a little extra $$ that they will in turn spend in their community, Boise county gets access to a rescource they dont have internally, and both public safety and local governments are working together…

    Remember that government is not about TURNING A PROFIT…its about helping out. We may not always agree with the methods, and any project can be picked apart……but at least this is cooperation and good neighborness.

    Isolationism gets us nowhere.

    EDITOR NOTE–Nemo this is akin to ADA EMS giving the paramedics an ambulance so they can go to Boise County to earn $56 an hour for themselves and accept ALL liability on behalf of the county for any acts. The “neighbor” needs to raise taxes to rates as high or higher than Boise City to pay for the same services we pay for here. The true beneficiaries are the off duty coppers who rent their badge using public assets.

  17. Dave,
    Take a look at some stats on summer motorcycle fatalities on Hwy 21. How much money is a person’s life worth, especially when you have a professional traffic unit to help out?
    Have you checked out the BPD website and seen all the things the officers give to the community or FREE in terms of time and service? Especially kids. For example this Tuesday officers are taking about 700 kids, on their own time, up for a raft a long. How about the recent Citizen’s Police Academy where all the officers volunteered their off duty time to teach. Maybe that’s an idea…why don’t you sign up and attend the Citizen’s Police Academy so you’ll be a little better informed from both sides.

    EDITOR NOTE–Last year there were NO FATALITIES involving motorcycles. Some would attribute that to the motor patrol, others would say idiots will be idiots regardless of out of county coppers patrolling. This is not an issue of “good cop, bad cop.” It is use of citizen assets, increased liability with absolutely NO BENEFIT to the citizens of Boise. No different than allowing ACHD drivers to earn extra cash plowing Boise County roads in the winter.

    How would feel about Boise PD eliminating weekend night patrol and having coppers from Caldwell and Emmett do it for $45 an hour using their own patrol cars because Boise is trying to save money and keep taxes lower?

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