Interesting Stuff

Chief Explains SWAT Class For BSU Coaches

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson provided a statement about the previous post at the request of the GUARDIAN. The department offered a SWAT training exercise for Boise State football coaches. Some readers were critical of the move which is featured on YOUTUBE.

BPD was proud to host the BSU coaches for a team building exercise. The police department operates with openness and transparency and we appreciate the opportunity to familiarize community members with how we train to keep them safe. Like the football team, where teamwork, training and preparation saves games, I am proud of the Boise Police “special teams” record of saving lives.

It’s easy to make comparisons between football and police special operations; the success of both is characterized by discipline, teamwork, and recognition that the performance of each individual is critical to the unit’s overall success. But with all deserved respect to Coach Harsin and his team, the BPD Special Operations Unit is asked to go, not onto a playing field, but into the highest risk, most life threatening emergency situations our community has faced in the last twenty five years. It’s intentional that their training and expertise has meant peaceful resolutions to dangerous, volatile situations, and kept them and countless others safe. I respect Coach Harsin and appreciate his admiration of the skill and commitment of these officers. I agree with him, they are a team whose success, measured in lives saved, is enviable and impressive. The ‘record” that our SOU team has achieved nearly three decades is measured not by wins and losses but how many lives have been saved because we have activated that team and asked them to risk their safety for the safety of others. That record is enviable and impressive.

Later this Fall, I plan on hosting a special event where members of the media are invited to attend to see a similar exercise and ask questions that can help educate our community on why this is a valuable resource for both the department and our community.

Chief Mike Masterson

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Thugs in costumes with guns.

    I think the police need to be disarmed, with only a specialized unit trained to use deadly force.
    This para-militarization of Law Enforcement needs to come to an end.

  2. Frankenstein Government
    Aug 20, 2014, 9:58 am

    I am sorry but I can’t buy into the logic that football has anything in common with swat teams. Except that they both need to practice to be successful.

    Football was simply the premise used to showcase a SWAT team and a police department looking for some good public relations. You get that as you read Masterson’s near perfectly crafted letter.

    The “community policing” model continues. Back when I began policing- we simply policed. Nobody expected us to massage the publics’ backside but then again- the public took responsibility for their poor actions and actually knew some shame. Unlike the lawless citizens of Ferguson.

    Meh. The SWAT team is always the favorite unlike the Broncos who are a ten point dog to Ol’ Miss.

  3. “…openness and transparency?” Good God in heaven.

  4. Watching the behavior of the SWAT toward reporters and law abiding residents in St. Louis this past two weeks is all one needs to know about SWAT when they are used too often and inappropriately. Further, nationwide the number of SWAT calls has increased to a completely bonkers number… each siege and dynamic entry often destroying structures/homes beyond repair.

    I for one, would like to see the police budgets and level of firepower reduced… with a genuine mandated improvement to community relations and trust. If you wanna play with military weapons go back to the military or be a mercenary… I don’t want you in my police uniform.

    (BTW: My speculation thus far… I think the shooting in St. Louis was justified in the moment, but the event was unnecessarily escalated to a physical conflict by the officer. And obviously the police have lost the respect of the community. And obviously LBJ’s big idea for voter recruitment to the democrat party has some pitfalls.)

  5. John Q. Public
    Aug 20, 2014, 1:35 pm

    Apparently, the United Dairymen of Idaho are unaware of this video, and “…never sponsored it directly…”.

    Moreover, I’ve learned that filming was suspended after a coach was struck with a rubber bullet.

  6. FRANK: the irony of this situation is that the “chief” has just written more concerning a bunch of shaved headed wanna be “soldiers” playing games at taxpayer expense than he did about a two year FBI investigation. Apparently “transparency and openness” is an easy task when it’s a PR stunt that means nothing compared to a situation that is so serious that federal agents spend two years investigating. i=If this “chief” wants us to believe he is “transparent and open” how about starting with some issues that really matter. In the meantime, it would appear that Boise’s SWAT team spends more time giving hotshot demos for the local high schools and neighborhood nights out than it does actually using these “incredible skills in hot situations. In a way i am thankful that their skills are really not needed. Boise is a safe and non-vioent city because the citizens are law-abiding…not because of anything the police department does. I want a refund.

  7. On the humorous side: Proof positive that the anti-gun BSU Academic establishment must bow to the football program… as is the case at schrewels nationwide.

  8. I agree with Zippo. Missouri is a good demonstration of what LEO has become. And in the opinion of A LOT of law abiding people it is on the wrong course. Too many bad apples and apparently the good apples are not culling the basket.

    I would rather see the LEO work smarter instead of always make a show of force. Shock and Awe is good for Iraq, not Broadway Avenue. Saving lives is one thing, saving public opinion and perception is also important.

    And I think it’s UNSAFE for any SWAT to be displaying their tactics in the media. But then, I’m no police chief. At least have some OpSec if you’re going to play army.

    I will take this bet though, the next bozo held up in a house in Boise knows, there is knock-the door-down, a bang-grenade, one to the left, one to the right, and one up the middle. And so, “Hey, here’s a special treat back at you as soon as you knock down the door. Cuz I got a couple seconds since you’re all in a hurry to get your sht fire on and don’t know what’s inside.” Meanwhile he knows exactly what’s outside and their tactics because the media just told him.

    Chief wants to “help educate our community on why this is a valuable resource for both the department and our community”
    Nobody needs to educate our community why a BFD Dive Team is valuable. It’s obvious.
    Nobody needs education to know why a fire truck has a 40 foot ladder. We’ve never seen it used, but it’s pretty obvious.
    We’ve seen the pictures of BPD, and Ada County, and now Caldwell with a full-blown MRAP with storm-trooper outfits— Not so obvious? So education is the answer?
    Mayor Bieter says the same thing about the trolley, let’s pay a PR firm to educate them about the issue.
    A lot of other people feel the same way. The proof is, if they had to PAY for all this para-equipment they would not buy it (or more).
    For example, if someone wants to GIVE me a 50-caliber I would love it. I can’t afford to shoot it more than once or twice a year, and I have no real need for it, other than pure enjoyment- but a rational decision keeps me from buying one. And my neighbors would avoid me if they saw me carrying it into my house frequently- that would be good. So if someone is going to give me big weapons,,, yee haw!

    On a realistic note, -what we really need is ONE state-wide SWAT team to respond to these occasional situations. Base a team at the Boise airport, and then BPD/ACS/ISP can all have members as needed. Local departments would not need to duplicate it and that team is a plane ride away from anywhere in the state.
    Instead, everyone wants to have their own “toys” too. The taxpayers pay for the extra toys (maintenance at least)and the citizenry feels threatened – by the police.

  9. The football players get drug tested, lets see drug testing for the cops and the SWAT team.

  10. Chief Mike Masterson
    Aug 21, 2014, 10:48 am

    For Bob, Boise police officers are subject to a pre-employment drug test and then throughout their careers on a random basis for durgs and alcohol. I have had four random tests durng my tenure here. They are not “scheduled”, you receive a notice to appear at a lab and you must appear within the hour. In ten years I’ve never been notified of an officer testing positive, whcih of course would lead to their termination. The program is not administered by the department but by City HR. Hope that helps.

  11. Chief, Thank you for bringing up drug tests. I’ve inquired on this site several times before but received no reply from you or any credible source. So I ask again: Are the officers tested for steroids, growth hormones, etc., during the tests you mention?

    I ask, because like football teams, many a copper has big unnatural muscle build. However, with a full-time police job, nary the time to be in the gym long enough to build that kinda muscle mass.

    Why does it matter? The use of roids and GH is a common carryover habit from a former role in school sports. They are illegal and dangerous drugs which cause mood swings and errors in perception of reality.

    Many a police union lobbies against testing for these muscle-building drugs because they are so commonly used to give a physical performance edge.

    Why do I care in peaceful clean little Boise? Because even here the police are preparing for a war on the law abiding citizen. You guys have gone all paranoid with the equipment and training… And the attitude projected toward me as a citizen is no longer one of courtesy and respect. No no, Everyone is now a potential terrorist to you guys. So from my point of view… If it looks like a thug, acts like a thug, and talks like a thug. It is a thug.

    The real reason for the nationwide police build-up: Police forces are an important part of one of the biggest business models in America. I call it “the fleecing of the poor”… but the ordinary taxpayer is footing the bill too. When you look at these stats ask if this is good prosecution or is in persecution?? Is it the USA or the USSA? The numbers are astounding are scary:

    So tell me about tests for roids please.

  12. ….and what happens if they test positive for drugs and alcohol?…..are they automatically terminated?

    EDITOR NOTE–Give it a rest. He made a fair and honest response. Quit trying to back him into a corner.

  13. Chief mike Masterson
    Aug 21, 2014, 6:15 pm

    Zippo, city policy requires the testing of police, fire and safety senstive positions for the following: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine (pcp)

    As far as I know they do not cover steroids or growth hormones. As it is city policy I would suggest you send recommendations for change to the mayor or council members.

  14. Holy Batman!
    I thought Zippo was just running off on some tangent with the steroids and performance drugs.

    I appreciate the Chief’s interaction here, but dang!

    “as far as I know”

    Chief, with all due respect to your title, maybe you should know.
    And obviously the testing doesn’t include such drugs, otherwise you would be telling your guys (and ‘girls’) “dont be juicin” – which you should be doing anyway, whether it’s specifically prohibited or not.

    It should be YOUR policy and not waiting until the city council decides to do something. You deferring readers to the council means you don’t care one way or another.

    I’m sure The Guardian is going to put in a time-out, but dannnngggg

    From Police Chief Magazine:
    Symptoms Associated with Use or Abuse:

    Mania or hypomania (high energy levels associated with increased self-confidence, increased activity, IMPAIRED JUDGEMENT, and RECKLESS behavior)

    Psychosis—loss of touch with REALITY (for example, paranoia or delusions of grandeur; infrequent)

    Personality changes

  15. Chief, I’ll be sorry to see you go… you’ve done good things here. More work to be done, and I’m concerned the next guy will not continue on the right path.

    We are enjoying the fruits of generations past… and of our geographic location/isolation. Boise has a fairly good police force as far as we know… but it also does not get the kinda stress test which the big-crime city forces do. (Which makes me say it’s freaky the way you’ve taken the feds lead about “the enemy within” … really a wrong turn to make your random local folk the bad guys by default… that’s just USSA thinking from The Homeland Paranoia Department. Please park the big truck… the Army has dozens of them at the airport should a real need arise.)

    Still, I’m very impressed with how you make the effort to bust simple crimes like shoplifting rings and small time dealers… The word is out in Cali… if you wanna be a criminal, avoid Ada/Boise.

  16. Interested Citizen
    Aug 23, 2014, 5:43 am

    Chief Masterson:

    I am deeply disturbed by your lack of accountability to those who write your paycheck regarding the extensive and lengthy Federal investigation. You have NOT been forthcoming!!!!!!!

    And, no testing for STEROIDS??????

    What am I missing here?

  17. sometimes I read these posts and just laugh. Easterner have you ever taken any sort of math class?? If there was one SWAT team for the entire state, who would pay to train them? Would they all train individually and never see each other until an activation? Talk about an episode of keystone cops. How much does a plane cost to just have on standby? Would you fly 10 or so guys commercial last minute and pay the exorbitant rates? Who would cover the tickets and all the checked luggage? Who is going to pay the overtime for the patrol guys sitting on the house waiting for SWAT to show up? What county will write the search warrant to get into the house? These are some crucial facts you apparently don’t seem to think much about. I know where I am from the officers were members of the department and trained as part of their duty day on a quarterly style basis. This meant no overtime. The only money they paid out was for a few hours of an activation. Seems substantially cheaper to me….I personally would rather take my chances with one or two not so squared officers out of a couple thousand then having this fine city turn into the hood where you should be scared. That’s the definition of the citizenry feeling threatened.

  18. Jake… you are willing to take your chances with one or two squared cops… until they are banging on your door and threatening you and yours…

  19. Chief Mike Masterson
    Aug 25, 2014, 7:37 am

    good morning zippo and interestd others, last week i was off so i didnt have the resource material available to me for an exact quote on drug testing. just returned to work this morning and retrieved a copy. Under “drug free workplace” the city and union “agree to be bound by federal testing standards as well as agree that testing will also include steroids and abuse of prescription drugs.

    EDITOR NOTE–Chief, thanks for the follow up.

  20. Jake, here is some reading for you:

    Ada Metro SWAT has 30 members. They are officers from the Meridian and Garden City Police Departments, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, and Ada County Paramedics.

    And here’s a memory test for you:

    So does Boise need it’s own SWAT? Does Caldwell? How about if Cascade Police Department gets 2 MRAPs and a helo for next time?

    I say instead it should be one well trained team supported and organized at the state level for a quick response. Cost-effective. Trained for a reasonable reaction to deescalate the situation.

    Texas has the idea, although they also have local militarized police too.

  21. Rick,
    I hope that day never happens. Unfortunately people do make mistakes and it is possible it may. I highly doubt it as I try my best to avoid anything that would bring police to my door, but I understand they are human and make mistakes like many of the commentors on this site. The starbucks gal screws up my drink sometimes but I don’t hate all of them.

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