With the departure of Boise Police Ombudsman Pierce Murphy, citizens are left without an advocate who is not beholding to the coppers.
Murphy is unique in that he made the rules for his job and ended up with a national rep for fair handed oversight of coppers. He has left for a similar post in Seattle which has been rocked by police abuse of force issues so bad the city is under a Federal Court order.
Boise Chief Mike Masterson has done a fine job cutting crime, reining in copper abuse for the most part, and administering the department, but he is still a copper. He has to run a budget of nearly $62 million, establish policy and be the boss of more than 300 coppers, while keeping citizens and politicos happy. We think it was easier in some respects with Ombudsman Murphy looking over his shoulder.
Before Murphy came along–and he was the third choice of former Mayor Brent Coles–the GUARDIAN editor and other citizens advocated a “POLICE COMMISSION.” The commission idea needs to be resurrected. It would operate just like Parks, Public Works, Library, Airport, Planning & Zonning–a citizens advisory panel. We would suggest the ombudsman position be retained, but he/she should work for the police commission.
As we envision the board, it would not be involved with personnel matters, but serve as a sounding board for the chief, giving citizens a voice in policy and budget matters. As it is today, while we may have a good chief at present, we could just as easily end up in the same position we were in before. We would also have no objection to combining Police and Fire as a “Public Safety” board. Fire is number two consumer of citizen tax money.
While citizens have a voice in the other “lesser” departments, we have no voice in the policy or guidance of the single biggest department in the city–Police. For the council to claim it serves the oversight position is simply without foundation.
When we asked about the personal use of more than 123 city-owned vehicles, coppers claimed it took 5 hours to just gather how many take home cars they had and how much a vehicle costs. Obviously the council wasn’t aware of the numbers because it took nearly a full day for the cops themselves to learn.
To date, we haven’t heard anything from any members of the council regarding the REVELATIONS made last week about police cars.
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