Boise’s top copper, Mike Masterson, has lumped several controversial incidents in a media release posted Christmas Eve. While some of the details won’t be made public, the message sent to other members of the department as well as the public has to be viewed as a positive action. Three of the incidents were in OCTOBER.
“I firmly believe offering this information offers greater accountability on the part of police and provides us with a forum to continue to dialogue with the people we serve. The community should know that when we do make mistakes, we hold ourselves accountable and are committed to improving the way we police ourselves and our community.” said the Chief.
(Dates reflect decision dates)
December 23, 2013: A video was brought to the attention of the department of an officer contacting a man who was videotaping a traffic stop. The Boise Police Department pro-actively made local media aware of the video October 10th resulting in widespread coverage. The Chief issued a statement at that time recognizing professional standards of behavior from officers are essential to maintaining the public confidence and trust necessary for public and officer safety. The Chief indicated an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident was underway.
This week, an internal investigation concluded the officer’s behavior did not live up to the policy and expectations of the department. The matter has been addressed consistent with internal disciplinary procedures.
“We are confident that other officers understand our department policy and training regarding the public lawfully videotaping police officers. With today’s technology, videotaping in public is commonplace. While officer and citizen safety is always a significant concern, this incident is a reminder to all of us about the expectations this department has for handling similar situations in the future.” said Chief Masterson.
December 20, 2013: Chief Masterson was informed by the United States Attorney’s Office on December 20th that a federal investigation convened approximately eighteen months ago into alleged civil rights violations involving the execution of search warrants has ended without criminal charges. The inquiry focused on an officer who resigned from the department following an internal investigation into violations of department policy in 2011. After the officer’s resignation, additional allegations surfaced leading to the federal investigation. The Boise Police Department cooperated fully in the federal inquiry. (EDITOR NOTE–The bad copper has been “decertified” by the State of Idaho, never to be a copper again. Last we heard he had a job with firm out of state that has major contracts with the U.S. Government).
December 17, 2013: The department concluded a review of an officer’s use of force involving a dog running loose on the 700 block of North 28th Street that occurred October 20th. Evidence reviewed includes an officer’s audio tape and physical evidence at the scene, including entry and exit wounds on the animal consistent with the animal being between one and two feet from the officer’s leg when the officer fired. The review found the officer acted to defend himself against what he believed was an aggressive dog about to bite him. The officer’s actions were found to be within policy.
The Department is working with expert dog handlers from the Idaho Humane Society and members of the Boise Police K9 Unit to review the incident and provide other officers with additional training. The department is also working the Community Ombudsman’s office on a review of officer training regarding aggressive animals. (Editor note–we have suggested training with letter carriers who encounter dogs daily. Also officer video “body cameras cleared Nampa coppers in a similar incident).
“Despite the understandable emotions of this case, the combined evidence clearly shows how rapidly the dog came upon the officer in an aggressive manner and how quickly the officer had to make a decision on what to do to protect himself.
“When faced with a threat to their safety or the safety of others, officers must make immediate decisions on how best to stop the threat. Anyone who has suffered a dog bite knows they can be debilitating, potentially impacting an officer’s ability to do his job. Officers are trained they do not have to get hurt before they can take steps to defend themselves.” said Chief Masterson.
October 28, 2013: An officer was issued a citation for violation of Idaho Code 49-623, failure to operate with due care after the marked patrol car he was driving collided with two other vehicles at the intersection of North Milwaukee and King Streets. The officer was responding to a call of a teen pointing a handgun at another juvenile. The officer and a passenger in his vehicle were both taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution. No other injuries were reported.
The crash was investigated by Idaho State Police and is noted in the original news release on the incident.
The following is a statement from Chief Masterson:
“While we are not a perfect organization, we are an outstanding one dedicated to providing professional and caring police services to our community.
“One of the ways to maintain trust between Boise police and our community is building a culture of openness and transparency in following our mission –to protect, serve and lead our community to a safer tomorrow. As Chief I’ve thought about ways to achieve this goal, from posting our policy on our website to personally handling complaints from citizens on such diverse issues as bike safety to dispatching of wild dangerous animals in the city. I’ve taken the opportunity to share insight into policing decisions and operations affecting the people we serve through written articles, interviews and opinion pieces.
“We appreciate the opportunity to celebrate successes and also explain lessons learned. Members of the Boise Police Department recognize maintaining the highest levels of professionalism and integrity are essential to maintaining the public confidence necessary for public and officer safety. We all work hard to build and earn a reputation of integrity and professionalism. Boise Police employees work daily as trusted, valuable partners with our colleagues in law enforcement as well our partners in neighborhoods, businesses, schools and other community groups interested in furthering public safety.
“This department employs the most dedicated, competent and caring individuals I have ever come across in my 37 years of public service. I commend their daily commitment to protecting our community and will continue to work alongside them to insure the high quality of professional service that inspires the trust and confidence the community demands and their public service deserves.“
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