City Government

Ombudsman Job Description Conflicts With Code

Boise City is taking apps for an ombudsman six months after the first and only one, Pierce Murphy, left to clean up the Seattle PD. The job pays up to $95K, but there may be problems for the guy or gal who take the post.

In a casual read it appears the job description doesn’t comply with the City Code (22-2) which details the duties and the rules by which the Community Ombudsman is to play.

Murphy wrote his own ordinance which made him pretty much bulletproof:
Here’s part of “Murphy’s Law,” B) “The Community Ombudsman may not be removed from office except for misconduct,inefficiency, incompetence, inability or failure to perform the duties of such office or negligence in the performance of such duties. In such cases that warrant removal from office, said removal shall be accomplished only by a resolution adopted in public hearing by either the majority of the full City Council upon recommendation of the Mayor or by a vote of no less than five (5) members of the full City Council…” The description posted claims the job is designated “At Will.”

Contrary to city code, the job description says the Ombudsman Performs other duties as assigned. Nothing in this job description restricts management’s right to assign or reassign duties and responsibilities to this position at any time. Total Percentage = 100%.

But then you have Murphy’s law again which says:
Section 2-22-08 INDEPENDENCE OF THE COMMUNITY OMBUDSMAN
A) The Community Ombudsman and any employee of the Office of Community
Ombudsman shall, at all times, be totally independent. Any investigations, findings,
recommendations and requests made by the Office of Community Ombudsman shall
reflect the views of the Office of Community Ombudsman alone.
B) No person shall attempt to unduly influence or undermine the independence of the
Community Ombudsman or any employee of the Office of Community Ombudsman
in the performance of the duties and responsibilities set forth in this Chapter.

The city code also outlines duties which relate strictly to monitoring law enforcement activities within the city.

The community and legacy media need to keep an eye on any attempts to mess with Murphy’s law.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. donnie brasco
    Jan 7, 2014, 9:55 am

    The position has become totally irrelevant. If there is to be civilian oversight of this pathetic agency called the BPD then it needs to function outside of the mauor’s offie. A panel of some sort or review board consisting of 5 or 7 members to ensure that no ONE person has the power to misdirect or ignore significant legitimate complaints filed by citizens is the only way the citizens of this city can feel somewhat satisfied that the mayor the “chief” and the ombudsman can’t get a story down and stick to it. And without subpoena power there is no real need for this position. Other than these beautifully written reports that describe how BPD policy was violated for uttering %$#& or &^%$, it is safe to say that the ombudsman was unable to see the forest for the trees. And there is a deep DARK forest here in this city that has yet to be explored. Don’t waste the taxpayer’s money any further.

  2. Makes you wonder if the people who make the law actually know the law.

  3. well… so long as our family pets are in danger of trigger happy cops, and the “punishments” for abusive behavior is nothing more than a paid vacation. We will need an Ombudsman to help protect us from those who claim to be serving us. regardless of what the law reads, or how it is written.

    It is sad that this state is in this position. I remember once upon a time, Cops were respected and appreciated, and they were honorable. There was an understanding that they had our best interests in mind. That is something that is obviously not true today.
    What happened to those days?

  4. Donnie, you are right about the position being irrelevant. It has not become irrelevant it was irrelevant from its inception. A reasonable and intelligent public would not accept having a fox protect the hen house from other foxes, yet this is what we had and most likely will have. I agree with you that there need to be a panel (with teeth) to rein in what is quickly and most assuredly becoming an out of control situation. Why should there be a 95k position that has no power to hold anyone accountable and is in essence just a rubber stamp for LE.
    No Name
    The people that make the laws do not care, neither they nor those that enforce the laws are held to the standards in the laws so why should they care. That is an indisputable fact.
    LD
    I can agree that the public needs someone to do what the many layers of supervision in LE is not willing to do. Unfortunately the position we are discussing has and will probably never have any means to make any changes at all.
    Anyone who has read this blog knows my position on LE needing some supervision. Any amount of supervision would be a drastic improvement over the situation we have now. When LE is not even required to follow the laws they enforce we have a fundamental and systematic problem.
    I realize my comments will be met with ridicule but, none the less they are true. Something needs to be done to let LE know that they work for the people… not the other way around.

  5. I can remember the bad old days before Mr. Murphy came on the scene. He did a very good job of oversight and acting in the interests of citizens against the “blue wall of silence” that exists in just about every police department.

    The three monkeys of see no evil, hear no evil and report no evil were the underpinning of BPD prior to Mr. Murphy. He made the position bulletproof to political and cronyism. We need this kind of position in every area where the public has a right to know what is going on.

    Internal Affairs in police departments is a joke in Idaho as a general statement of allness. Nampa had a very public issue with their IA Dept. with the chief running roughshod over officers in that area of NPD. Murphy was above it all and did a very good job.

    Lastly, what is the deal with all the dog shootings? Pepper spray will make any dog do a U-turn. One Boise cop has now shot 3 dogs!

    EDITOR NOTE–For the record, the most recent shooting was a first for the officer. The one a few months ago was that officer’s second dog shooting. We agree on pepper spray idea, but TASER tests show it is not reliable. Another tactic some coppers advocate is use of a fire extinguisher when it is known in advance there is a dog issue.

  6. donnie brasco
    Jan 7, 2014, 5:41 pm

    Fly….”He made the position bulletproof etc..” Without a doubt…..NO doubt….the ombudsman became the biggest player in this game of political football. He was referee, cheerleader coach and player all rolled in to one very powerful highly overpaid position within the Mayor’s office. One would think that the powers that be within the police department would be able to handle the issues that police departments are faced with. A perfect example of meaningless overkill is…yet again…our YOUTUBE heroine of old. What did the ombudsman do with this, if anything? What could he have done if the complaint was routed to him. The short answer is NOTHING. So what’s the point of the position.
    If the department heads simply don’t want to make the tough decisions that come with their high pay, then they need to move on. It would be interesting to determine if the ombudsman knew anything about this so called federal investigation that took place for the last EIGHTEEN MONTHS. if he knew nothing, then the case is made to eliminate the position. So far the public has heard nothing about anything related to this investigation. So much for civilian oversight. We apparently just have to take the “chief’s” word that all is well and there is nothing to see here. Just eliminate the position or as you say give it some teeth.

  7. I have 2 questions… 1 does anyone really think there will ever be any kind of meaningful oversight of BPD? 2 How do you guys find out who these coppers are…. I would really like to know who the infamous “officer 3″ was.

    EDITOR NOTE–oversight is a tricky deal. To get the ombudsman post, he is forced by constitution to wait until there was no chance of criminal prosecution to investigate because giving truthful info to the ombudsman is a “condition of employment.” The coppers 5th amendment rights are protected at the expense of speedy ombudsman investigation and release of details to the citizens. I tend to agree the coppers release stories about 3rd offense DUI or an extreme .38 B.A., along with a mug shot, but protect identity of copper who cost the citizens $150,000 in a secret civil rights settlement.

    I personally have pushed more than 20 years for a “police commission” to operate just like parks, library, airport, P&Z, etc. Coppers have $45 million budget, can use deadly force, deprive people of their freedom and we have no voice in the policy or spending of the agency.

  8. No voice huh? didn’t you and all your neighbors elect the mayor and city council? I know that starts a big debate, but that is who YOU all voted in to run your city and oversee your city departments!

  9. today’s article in the paper about the ADA deputy who lied to a judge to get a search warrant is evidence of why there needs to be independent review and oversight of police. (The deputy was fired from Ada County, but then hired by Canyon County. How Canyon County Sheriff would hire a cop who got fired for lying to a judge to obtain a warrant is beyond logic.)

  10. so what are you saying sal???

    EDITOR NOTE–Whenever we bring up the lack of citizen representation/participation in police and fire, they always claim the council is the ultimate authority. Truth is, if the council is able to manage police and fire which are huge, why do they need boards for airport, parks, P&Z, library, etc.? We repeat, there is NO CITIZEN VOICE for police and fire.

  11. So what is the ultimate goal of the city Ombudsman? To duplicate investigations in to police actions as in shootings or other similar incidents? Or is it to handle complaints against officers that the BPD refuses to investigate? I have never figured out what his job is. If it is some sort of citizen oversight then he has wasted his time. It is beyond comprehension that a federal investigation took place for EIGHTEEN MONTHS, nothing comes of it and the ombudsman skates out of town without a word when it took place on his watch???????? So PIERCE what exactly were you doing for 18 months while this was going on? I can tell you. Look at his investigative reports for the last several months. Nothing. Nada. Zip. if this is the sum total of his work product then I want a refund.
    Reading through the vast majority of his investigative reports ( and I have) the VAST majority of his “work” involves demeanor, profanity with a smattering of bogus excessive force complaints. It also appears that they are USUALLY (not always) initiated by disgruntled citizens who had handcuffs put on them (i.e. arrested). So it appears that the Ombudsman’s office became the “get even” office. Not exactly what the city leaders had in mind I am sure.
    There are all kinds of word games being played as well. If an officer is charged criminally, is that considered a “personnel” issue if fired or other types of punishment are administered? Do we as citizens have a right to know if a cop is a thief or a doper or has been arrested for drunken behavior? And if they are “allowed to retire” as this Ada county deputy apparently was for criminal behavior and are not charged, do we have a right to know? This is one confusing MESS. If there is to be an investigative body providing police oversight then make it worth something. Power to issue subpoenas, power to recommend criminal charges, accountability by the leaders of the police department not just the cronies on the street.

    I for one want to know what the focus of this federal investigation was that took 18 months to conclude with…….NOTHING. If NOTHING then lets hear what the bogus charges were and against whom. Somebody. ANYBODY? Like an ombudsman.

  12. Whats with all the anti-authority resentment here in the Northwest. I swear it seems like some of you hated your mothers simply because she told you what to do.
    I understand some of your points and concerns but most of you take this to an extreme I associate with paranoia and tinfoil hats.
    Just because someone works for the Government doesn’t mean they wake up every morning, make their coffee and think about how to screw with average citizens and deprive them of freedom. Oversight is already built into the system (although not always perfect) and it’s not always a conspiracy to keep the truth from you and keep you miserable (which some of you clearly are). Have you ever lived anywhere else with real problems? Just my point of view.

  13. interesting.
    Jan 9, 2014, 9:36 am

    So eliminate the ombudsman position. Apparently the FBI is just as paranoid.

  14. Kelly,
    Your argument is fallacious.
    Yes there is a bitterness here, but it has grown from factual accounts of abuse of power, and lack of oversight to regulate those who are in control. Not everyone here lives in a little hole waiting for the opportunity to point our fingers at a cop for their misdeeds. Some of us, (myself included) have lived in multiple places around the world, and have been to better, and worse places than this. There are places in this world, and even in this country where abusive cops are just the “norm”, and people deal with it accordingly. However, here, in Boise, there is a sort of war going on. Where the authority wants to regulate, control, and use their power to whatever extent that they so choose, but the people here are not willing to tolerate it, unlike other places.

    In your eyes, if speaking out against injustice makes me comparable to “wearing a tin hat”, then it is clearly not I who has a skewed perspective on what is right, and what is wrong, but it is you who needs to rethink your outlook on authority.

    Albert Einstein said: “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”

  15. modern columbo
    Jan 9, 2014, 3:24 pm

    The office of the Ombudsman does not have any authority of the police department. It is an independent fact finding office. The Ombudsman will report his findings the mayor and police chief with findings and suggestions but these findings can be ignored. The Ombudsam report becomes public information and I think that is the primary function here. A means for the public to be able to see what the results of investigations are. Otherwise internal affairs would never disclose anything to the public. It is important the Ombudsman knows something about police operations, but is able to openly and honestly tell the public what happened in a case of misconduct. I ask those reading this to let me know what they think the Ombudsman should do. Real suggestions with the constraint that the office will continue to have no authority to make actual change.

  16. Kelly, what’s with the apathy in whatever part of the country you come from? I think you will if you are open and honest about it find the disdain for BPD in particular and LE in the valley in general comes from numerous acts perpetrated by LE. Acts like the numerous killing of dogs to the infamous “officer 3” incident to the numerous drunken acts and antics while armed in various bars downtown. All of these incidents and the lack of disciplinary action or at best what is seen as very light disciplinary action have eroded the respect for LE and those who are in supervisory roles within the dept’s.
    To say in the face of factual evidence both video and audio taped that people are “paranoid” or wearing “tinfoil hats” shows me two things about you. One, if it did not happen to you, it did not happen and two you have a bias that will not change even in the face of insurmountable evidence. I associate this type of behavior with an individual who buries their head in the sand.
    You asked if people who comment have ever lived anywhere else with real problems. My personal answer to that question would be yes fortunately those places did not have problems with their public servants. Before you ask I have lived in Indiana, Montana, the northern half of the banana republic called California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and here twice (it was much better here in the 80′s) I have also lived in or traveled to 7 countries overseas including the largest city in Europe. This place by far has the most problems concerning LE that I have personally seen.
    My point of view with supporting evidence. What say you?

  17. Interested Citizen
    Jan 12, 2014, 2:29 pm

    Legal records are full of instances of abuses of power, authority, and position by police, prosecutors, courts, judges, and others related to law enforcement.

    Further, incompetence, ineptitude, criminal violations of constitutional rights, and so forth is tolerated and condoned. There is no accountability.

    I should know. I was arrested without probable cause, but there is no recourse.

  18. What is the most interesting about all of this? The press release was done on Christmas Eve. That really smells of something bad that the Chief did not want anyone knowing about. Poor ratings for Christmas Eve newscasts.

  19. Give it a break Rick, we know you hate LE, especially here. Don’t give me that BS that it is worse here then in any other place you have lived. Have you heard of BPD officers shaking down drug dealers, pimps, running extortion rings etc etc. No, but in most of those other states things like that have happened. Get off your high horse and stay out of troubled and you would be fine.

  20. Hey Sal if you reread my post you will see that it says that rapport between LE and the average citizen here is worse. Do I think cops here are better or worse… I really do not have an answer. We haven’t had a retired capt. commit murder in a movie theater, but we have had ALOT of incidents that show a TOTAl lack competence on the part of LE throughout this valley. And to answer your question about pimps and extortion no but, I sure have heard of one charging the city overtime while he was with his informant girl friend, there’s a law suit now concerning an ACSD deputy who lied on more than on occasion to get a search warrant. OH wait… that does not matter… right… the people he lied about were doing bad… so it’s ok…. right? I would like to know one thing…. why is it when you cops can do no wrong types meet someone like me you automatically think we’ve been in trouble. Do they teach you that in the academy?
    It would be nice to have open adult discussions about this, god knows something needs to be done but, that will probably never happen. You have your opinion I have mine, you will never change mine and I will never convince you too pull your head out of the sand and see the truth.

  21. Well…….not yet anyway.

  22. sal nez:

    How long have you been infested in “law enforcement”?

  23. Mal….who was that question too?

  24. Interested Citizen
    Jan 15, 2014, 2:26 pm

    And, prosecutors…………..

    Let me see……I am sure Bujak is completely innocent of the latest charges, right???

    Prosecutors have proven they are corrupt!!!

  25. who was that question too mal? And Steve… how would someone become infested in LE?

  26. Just like any job/career etc there will be a few bad apples, and they are fired when needed, you just don’t hear about them. But, to lump this valley in with larger places is not fair for the larger percentage of cops that do right for many years.

  27. one final thought
    Jan 16, 2014, 11:03 am

    It may or may not be a factor, but I can’t help wondering that if this city actually had a strong, truth seeking media outlet (print or radio or tv) willing to ask the tough questions and willing to dig a bit, that just MAYBE this position would not be necessary. Interestingly enough, two media pundits of note, went to work for the agencies that seem to have the most issues and problems with the public. Although it was more than likely a good move from their perspective, for those of us on the outside looking in it sure seems……………strange. At any rate, this is a fun site to vent on. Beyond that, nothing will ever change in this city. The power brokers, the “organizations”, the players will not be changing any time soon. There are some good cops out there. Unfortunately they are lumped in with the bad ones in public opinion and have to deal with not only the public perception but with the absolutely pathetic group of officers leading the agencies. Maybe one day the public will be privy to the inside story.

  28. Sal you are right, most of the time when the bad apples are found they are fired. In this case bad behavior is not handled in that manner. To your other point why is it unfair to lump them in with the larger places? People are people cops are cops, I am not saying they are all bad what I am saying is when Sgt’s on BPD stand in a parking lot and argue and try to bully an individual who is filming them shows she did not have much fear of discipline for breaking the rules and there in lies the problem.

  29. Interested Citizen
    Jan 16, 2014, 11:51 pm

    Hmmmmm.

    How many times in my life have I heard “………….just an occasional bad apple, and so forth,……..and we got rid of them……….so problem solved…….”.

    No. Not so fast. Law enforcement has systemic and cultural problems, which are exacerbated by weak leadership from Bieter and Masterson.

  30. Interested Citizen
    Jan 17, 2014, 8:55 am

    And, why should we believe that the “bad apples” that are identified represent most of the bad actors infested in so-called “law enforcement”?

    More likely, the ones caught represent a small fraction of the infestation.

  31. Interested, I agree with you that the incidents that have come to the surface but they are certainly a small percentage of those who do bad in some form or another.

    I also agree that these issues are both systematic and cultural. When we read that the individuals in the Kelly Thomas incident in the OC were just doing what they were trained to do EVERYONE should be very very afraid. If this is how LE is trained to act there is a serious problem.

    I do not know Masterson I am glad to see that he will post on here from time to time. I am assuming it actually is him posting. If it is it shows that he is listening and may just make some changes. Unfortunately anyone who has ever trained a dog or had kids knows that once bad habits are established and ingrained they are very hard to change and there are some very bad things going on in LE everywhere.

    EDITOR NOTE FROM TAMPA: Local news here is a carbon copy of Boise issues. Ex-Copper who shot guy in theater claimed the tossed popcorn was an “unknown substance thrown at him. He was in fear of his life and defended himself.” In other news the Univ. of South Florida has done a bunch of studies on body cams, dash cams, etc. for same reasons we discussed it in Boise.

  32. Interested Citizen
    Jan 17, 2014, 10:19 pm

    I despise the bullying, the overzealousness, the haughtiness, and the self-rightiousness of police, prosecutors, judges, and others surrounding “law enforcement (so-called).

    Bullying is bullying, period!!!

  33. Dave thanks for the news that the issues in Boise are not that different than in Tampa and I would imagine any other city. I for one can not understand how people can argue that these are anything but systematic decencies in the system we have in place. Lets face it folks people are people we react in the ways we have been trained too. To use a defense that having an “unknown substance” in this case a bag of popcorn can some how rise to the level of a threat on his life is absurd. Until you remember he is an ex-cop. Cops are trained that in any confrontation that they are in charge… whether they are right, wrong, or even acting under the color of law is irrelevant. If a cop or in this case an ex-cop tells you to do something you have no choice but to comply. If you do not and stand up for your self you threatened “him” with harm that rises to using deadly force.

    As sal and others have said NOT ALL… yes I said not all cops are bad, but as with the people that cops deal with one bad in a group makes the whole group bad. The worst thing about it and actually the most disturbing thing is this. When a cop is accused of wrong doing the ranks close around him. When people are not given full facts and feel that things are being covered up they assume that there is wrong doing…. huh… cops do the exact same thing. Refuse to answer questions from a cop, your boss, or anyone and you will soon find out they think you are hiding something, well guys it works the same for you.

    The fact that LE thinks they have some sort of immunity from scrutiny, that they are some how more trust worthy than the average citizen is absurd. I do feel that LE “SHOULD” be held to a “MUCH” higher standard than the average citizen. Just take a look at the Stanford Experiment conducted by Philip Zimbardo in 1971 and you will see exactly what is happening in LE right now.

    This as I have said before is an issue that needs a lot of open and civil discussion. To call me and people like me cop haters because I bring up valid points does nothing to further this it just maintains the status quo, hum…. is that a tactic? If we do not discuss it, it will not change.

  34. Interested Citizen
    Jan 18, 2014, 7:59 pm

    Rick,

    Let us not, I repeat NOT, assume that Masterson and Bieter are doing even anything about these numerous issues until we see action and results!!!!!!!

    Talk is cheap, and good leadership is extremely scarce!!!

    Let’s see some action!!!!!!!!!

  35. one final thought..maybe one more
    Jan 18, 2014, 8:23 pm

    So does “no federal indictment” mean “noone did anything wrong” and no further action is warranted? Or will the housecleaning be quick silent and out of the public eye? Will the ombudsman issue any kind of statement or is this all she wrote?

  36. No federal indictment never means that everything was lily white, altar boy appropriate, ethical, legal, no dirty laundry, no misconduct, and so forth and so on………………….

    In fact, a lengthy investigation signals that there were plenty of problems.

    However, and think about this:
    Because there is an enormous amount of cooperation between most “law enforcement agencies”, and because a very public spectacle would severely undermine BPD (which the Feds and others do not want), and could easily undermine all of the legitimate “law enforcement” activities that they spearhead, it is somewhat unlikely that the Feds would bring charges under a wide array of facts and circumstances.

    But again, a length investigation strongly signals that there were in fact, many, many problems.

    There are other ways to handle many of these issues and avoid a very public spectacle, including forced resignations, terminations, severe reprimands, secret agreements regarding changes in policy and procedures, forced monitoring of an array of individuals and issues, and so forth.

    The lack of leadership at the top, including, but not limited to, Bieter and Masterson, is a severe problem that must be addressed.

  37. And further, do you really believe that the resignation of the last “ombudsman” was merely a “coincidence” or an opportunity for him to “move up”??????

    I would strongly suggest, NO!!!

    I am very, very skeptical of “coincidences”, and you should be as well.

  38. And, we are not finished with the corruption in Canyon County and Nampa, either……………….!!!

  39. Too citizen I would say the first step in fixing a problem is admitting there is a problem. I think Masterson has at least come to realize his department has a major problem, something that Beiter seems to not know and the head of the other “BIG” LE dept. could care less about.

  40. one final thought..maybe one more
    Jan 19, 2014, 6:54 pm

    I’ll answer that……..it will be quick, silent and out of the public eye. Word games.

  41. Steve Crea: ON THE MONEY. Congrats on your incredibly perceptive comments. The first I have actually read on this subject. I happen to agree with every single word of it.

  42. If Bieter and Masterson fail to give the citizens, voters, and taxpayers a full, comprehensive, open, expansive, and exhaustive report or REPORTS on these numerous, egregious, critical, and crucial issues, then we will have been sent a serious message from them that is generally along these lines:

    FLIP YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

    And, what does THAT imply of our so-called “LEADERS”??????????????

  43. And further, if Bieter and Masterson cannot, or WILL NOT, provide the necessary LEADERSHIP, then we must elect and hire someone who will, PERIOD!!!!!!!

  44. reespec mah othoreetie
    Jan 26, 2014, 4:28 pm

    Right now, sweat is being wiped from certain individual’s brow along with the uttered comment “Good Gosh that was close”. Yes. It sure was.

Enter your email address:

Categories