City Government

Boise STILL Needs A Police Commission


Each time there is a rash of high profile incidents involving police–either in Boise or nationally–there is a scramble to have some sort of oversight of the coppers.

Back in the 1990s when Boise had a rash of officer involved shootings, a citizens group called for oversight and paid for a city councilor to attend a national citizen oversight conference in Oakland. She came back convinced of the need, but then-mayor Brent Coles came up with his own version which was an ombudsman.

The first person they selected to act as a representative for the public was a woman whose first statement was that “all things being equal, I would side with the police.” That was also her last day on the job. Candidate #2 was offered the job and turned down the offer. Pierce Murphy finally became Boise’s first ombudsman and he set the standard for police oversight, but with no authority and little influence among coppers, he eventually headed to Seattle in an attempt to help that troubled department.

Former Mayor Dave Bieter reduced the office to a mere token and made the oversight duty a part time job. It was a vacant position for about two years. For more than 30 years GUARDIAN eitor Dave Frazier has advocated a police commission.

The proposal would work like the citizen boards at Planning and Zoning, Parks, and the Airport. The board would have a strong advisory position with ultimate authority held by the city council. As it is now, citizens have no voice in the operation of the biggest city agency when it comes to budget, policy, and management. As we see it, the oversight model would work under a commission which would work in concert with the chief to determine fiscal needs, staffing policy, training, etc.

The city council has failed–by their own admission–in creating a workable oversight system. If they had truly created a workable system, there would be no need to rehash the position, create another “nationwide search” and hire another outsider to be a toothless watchdog.

Here is what we wrote nearly eight years ago:
Another attempt:

The latest ordinance redefining the oversight role follows.

Ordinance
ORD-21-21
First Read
Apr 20, 2021 6:00 PM
AN ORDINANCE REPEALING BOISE CITY CODE TITLE 2, CHAPTER 10, AND ENACTING A NEW TITLE 2, CHAPTER 10, BOISE CITY CODE, ENTITLED “OFFICE OF POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY,” PROVIDING A TITLE, ESTABLISHING THE OFFICE OF POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY; PROVIDING A MISSION STATEMENT AND GOALS, SETTING FORTH APPOINTMENT OF DIRECTOR, SCOPE OF AUTHORITY, INDEPENDENCE OF THE OFFICE OF POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY, ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND RECORDS, AND COOPERATION; SPECIFYING DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE OFFICE OF POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY; OUTLINING TRANSPARENCY AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS, CONFIDENTIALITY OF RECORDS AND INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS, AND FALSE REPORTS PROCEDURES; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Information
Department: Legal Sponsors:
Category: City Code Amendment
Attachments
Exhibit A – Summary (This file has not yet been converted to a viewable format)
Financial Impact
Staff has confirmed adequate budget,
Body
WHEREAS, nationwide events have increased community demand for accountability and transparency in policing;

WHEREAS, the City’s leadership does not feel that the current Office of Police Oversight adequately supports the City’s interest in providing residents with proactive, empowered, independent, transparent, and community-driven civilian police oversight; and

WHEREAS, the City desires to provide more comprehensive civilian police oversight.

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BOISE CITY, IDAHO:

Section 1. That existing Boise City Code Title 2, Chapter 10, shall be, and hereby is, repealed and replaced with a new Title 2, Chapter 10.

Section 2. That Boise City Code Title 2, Chapter 10, Sections 1 through 11, be, and the same is, enacted to read as follows:

CHAPTER 10

OFFICE OF POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY

2-10-1: CREATED
2-10-2: MISSION STATEMENT AND GOALS
2-10-3: APPOINTMENT OF DIRECTOR
2-10-4: SCOPE OF AUTHORITY
2-10-5: INDEPENDENCE OF THE OFFICE OF POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
2-10-6: ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND RECORDS
2-10-7: COOPERATION WITH THE OFFICE OF POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
2-10-8: DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
2-10-9: TRANSPARENCY AND REPORTING
2-10-10: CONFIDENTIALITY OF RECORDS AND INFORMATION
2-10-11: FALSE REPORTS

2-10-1: CREATED

There is hereby created an administrative unit of the City to be known as the Office of Police Accountability. Civilian oversight of law enforcement is a critical facet of any effort to strengthen the relationship between police and the community and to build public trust, all while promoting effective policing. Oversight agencies help increase the public’s understanding of law enforcement policies, procedures, and operations. The City is committed to civilian police oversight that is proactive, empowered, independent, transparent, and community driven. The Office of Police Accountability investigates complaints against Boise Police Department (“BPD”) police officers and police personnel, audits internal affairs investigations, and makes informed policy recommendations related to policing issues of significant public interest.

2-10-2: MISSION STATEMENT AND GOALS

The Office of Police Accountability strives to be a leader in civilian police oversight by providing thorough and impartial review of police conduct. The mission of the Office of Police Accountability is to advance fair and professional law enforcement that is responsive to community needs. To this end, the goals of the Office of Police Accountability are:
1. Increase public trust and confidence in law enforcement through fair, thorough, and transparent investigations of allegations of misconduct
2. Provide independent investigation of all critical incidents
3. Encourage greater community participation in oversight of law enforcement
4. Improve community relations by acting as a bridge between the community and law enforcement
5. Advance the public’s understanding of law enforcement policies, procedures, and operations
6. Provide a place for citizens to voice concerns outside of the law enforcement agency
7. Ensure that complaints are resolved in a way that maximizes the public interest

2-10-3: APPOINTMENT OF DIRECTOR

The Director of the Office of Police Accountability (“Director”) shall be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council.

2-10-4: SCOPE OF AUTHORITY

The Office of Police Accountability shall have the authority to exercise its duties and responsibilities with regard to police conduct and police personnel as outlined below, operating under authority of the City.

2-10-5: INDEPENDENCE OF THE OFFICE OF POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY

The purpose of the Office of Police Accountability is to provide independent external civilian oversight of police conduct separate from the internal oversight conducted by BPD. While subject to the employment expectations and requirements of a City employee as described in City policies and regulations, the Director and Office of Police Accountability staff shall exercise full independence in the execution of their duties. No person shall attempt to unduly influence or undermine the independence of the Director or any employee of the Office of Police Accountability in the performance of the duties and responsibilities set forth in this chapter. Any findings, recommendations, or requests made by the Office of Police Accountability shall reflect the views of the Office of Police Accountability alone.

2-10-6: ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND RECORDS

The Office of Police Accountability is to be given full, unrestricted, and complete access to all information, files, evidence, or other material, except as otherwise provided by law, which the Director shall deem necessary in the performance of the duties specified and responsibilities set forth in this chapter. The Chief of Police shall jointly with the Director develop standard operating procedures to govern the relationship and flow of communication and work products between the Office of Police Accountability and BPD.

2-10-7: COOPERATION WITH THE OFFICE OF POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY

All City employees and BPD police officers shall be required as a condition of their employment to cooperate fully and truthfully, except as otherwise provided by law, with the Office of Police Accountability operating within the course and scope of this chapter. No person shall directly or indirectly force, or by any threats to person or property, or in any manner willfully intimidate, influence, impede, deter, threaten, harass, obstruct, or prevent another person, including a child, from freely, fully, and truthfully cooperating with the Office of Police Accountability.

2-10-8: DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

A. Investigation of Citizen Complaints Filed with the Office of Police Accountability

Any person may file a complaint against a BPD officer or employee directly with the Office of Police Accountability. A complaint is defined as an allegation that, if found to be true, would be a violation of federal, state, or local law, BPD Policy, or Boise City Policy. Complaints must be filed within ninety (90) calendar days from the incident giving rise to the complaint. Upon receipt of a complaint, the Director shall:
1. Forward the complaint to the BPD Office of Internal Affairs (“OIA”) for initial investigation
2. Review the investigation and final determination of OIA to ensure that the investigation was complete, thorough, objective, and fair
3. Conduct any additional investigation if the initial investigation was incomplete or otherwise inadequate
4. Provide a timely response to the complainant
5. Make policy recommendations as appropriate

B. Review of Citizen Complaints Filed with BPD

Upon receipt of a notice of a final determination from OIA, any person may within ten (10) business days of the date of the notice file a request for review with the Office of Police Accountability. Upon receipt of a request for review, the Director shall:
1. Review the investigation and final determination of OIA to ensure that the investigation was complete, thorough, objective, and fair
2. Conduct any additional investigation if the initial investigation was incomplete or otherwise inadequate
3. Provide a timely response to the complainant
4. Make policy recommendations as appropriate

C. Regular Audits of OIA Investigations

The Office of Police Accountability shall regularly audit investigations conducted by OIA to ensure that the investigations are complete, thorough, objective, and fair.

D. Mandatory Audits

The Office of Police Accountability shall audit all investigations in the following cases, regardless of whether a complaint is filed:
1. Citizen complaints made against command-level BPD members, including Captains, Deputy Chiefs, and the Chief of Police
2. Citizen complaints alleging discrimination or bias by a BPD officer or police employee against an individual on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression
3. Upon request by the Chief of Police

E. Investigation of Critical Incidents

If a BPD officer or employee is involved in a critical incident as a principal, victim, witness, or custodial officer, BPD shall immediately notify the Office of Police Accountability. The Director may provide on-scene monitoring of critical incidents and may act as a real-time observer to any criminal, administrative, or civil investigation conducted by or on behalf of BPD (e.g., the Critical Incident Task Force). The Director shall be given full access to observe interviews or any other aspects of the investigation. If the Director believes that an independent investigation into a critical incident is required, the Director may, with approval from the Mayor or the Mayor’s designee, employ an outside investigator. Critical incidents include:
1. Use of deadly force (excluding animals)
2. Use of force or any other police or law enforcement action that results in death or serious bodily injury requiring hospital admission
3. Vehicle pursuits, roadblocks, or intercepts resulting in the death or serious bodily injury requiring hospital admission
4. Vehicular collisions resulting in death or serious bodily injury requiring hospital admission that occurred while a police officer or police employee was operating a City vehicle (either on duty or off duty) or a private vehicle while on duty

F. Gathering and Analyzing Data

The Office of Police Accountability shall conduct regular review of police actions to evaluate compliance with BPD policies and relevant state and federal law. The Director shall provide independent analysis of police data related to use of deadly force, racial profiling, biased policing, illegal searches, excessive force, and unlawful arrests in an effort to identify trends and patterns.

G. Policy Recommendations

The Office of Police Accountability may develop specific recommendations as to the policies, procedures, practices, and training of BPD officers and employees. The goal of the recommendations is improved professionalism, safety, effectiveness, and accountability of BPD police officers and employees. The Director may make recommendations to the Chief of Police, the Mayor, or the City Council as appropriate.

2-10-9: TRANSPARENCY AND REPORTING

The Director shall file semiannual public reports with the City Clerk for transmittal to the City Council and Mayor, which shall include:
1. All complaints received by the Office of Police Accountability
2. All matters reviewed or audited by the Office of Police Accountability
3. A statistical analysis documenting the number of complaints received by category, their disposition, and any disciplinary actions taken
4. An analysis of trends and patterns
5. Policy recommendations as appropriate
2-10-10: CONFIDENTIALITY OF RECORDS AND INFORMATION

The Office of Police Accountability shall comply with all State and Federal laws requiring the confidentiality of law enforcement records, information, and confidential personnel records. A police officer, police employee, or citizen may waive his or her personal privacy rights. BPD remains the records custodian of any police reports, on-body video, audio recordings, or OIA documents provided to the Office of Police Accountability for review. The Office of Police Accountability shall not release any such materials to any member of the public without written approval from BPD.

2-10-11: FALSE REPORTS

The Director shall have the discretion to decline action on a complaint filed with the Office of Police Accountability if the Director finds that there is a reasonable belief that the alleged acts of misconduct in the complaint are false and that the person filing the complaint knew them to be false at the time the complaint was filed.

Section 3. That the summary of this ordinance, attached as Exhibit A, be, and the same is, approved as to both form and content.

Section 4. That this ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage, approval, and publication.

Comments & Discussion

15 comments for “Boise STILL Needs A Police Commission”

  1. I think a lot of problems could be prevented if police applicants were tested and questioned by a competent psychologist. Root out the racists before they hire. I think Meridian used to test applicants, Boise has not. I understand the police union forbids mention of excessive force used complaints in letters of recommendation. That seems to me the kind of overstepping that has brought too many unions down.

    EDITOR NOTE–The following statement comes from a Boise copper we know and trust: “All Boise Police applicants are subjected to a board interview and upon successful completion move on to an extensive background investigation. This includes a thorough examination of the candidates personal life, financials and extensive professional research including social media.

    We regularly send investigators to the candidates hometown to speak with neighbors, friends and employers, current and past. This would include looking at personnel records. Each candidate is required to pass an extensive psychological and medical exam provided by a police psychologist and medical doctor respectively.

    As far as letters of recommendation, I have never seen a department issue anything like that and certainly the union would not have any say in such a thing if it existed. Most unions are interested in hiring good candidates, no one dislikes bad cops more than good cops.”

  2. Any white man in law enforcement, or considering a career in law enforcement, should re-evaluate his options after the verdict this week. If you are at risk of being convicted of murder when a career criminal overdosed on drugs dies during an attempted arrest, then the cards are stacked against you, especially when the media and politicians all the way up to POTUS fan the flames and intimidate the jury. Biden/Harris, Maxine Waters, the Minneapolis City Council and the media are guilty of un-Constitutional acts by interfering with a trial. Chauvin’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial was violated, and the judge should have declared it a mistrial.

    If you are a LEO, consider resigning today. Let these mis-managed democrat run cities burn to the ground.

  3. Concerned Neighbor
    Apr 23, 2021, 8:11 pm

    There is no rash of police incidents. There is, however, a rash of misinfotainment masquerading as news and twisting everyone’s perception.

    If you want “oversight” then make the BPD Chief an elected position. As it is now, we’re headed directly into becoming the failed Soymalia/Portland under the thumb of Marxist McLean.

  4. FunkHobo69: Apparently you missed the movie.
    Concerned Neighbor: We have an elected law enforcement supervisor, the Sheriff. Make the city police department a division of the County under that official who must directly stand before the people for their elected job. I don’t think adding a commission to the current system would be efficient. It would just be adding another layer of bureaucracy to an agency already insulated from public scrutiny by Mayor, Council and Union contract.

  5. Close this story now!
    Apr 24, 2021, 9:05 am

    Let’s elect new council people. Let’s have a lottery system to convene a citizens group that will serve rotating terms of 1 year for oversight stuff (like a jury). Let’s do a reading test for FunkHobo to see if comprehension is a problem. He is off topic, and OCD with his extreme ideas. The discussion is already over.

  6. Boise Lawyer
    Apr 24, 2021, 12:52 pm

    Concerned Neighbor, I do not want my police chief to be an elected position, especially as voters become increasingly woke. I want my police chief to do what’s right, not what’s popular with his or her “political base” or “supporters.”

    I agree with Caeth that adding a commission to the current system would just be adding another layer of bureaucracy and inefficiency. Isolated incidents aside, I am happy with BPD and I don’t see why we should restructure a system that’s currently giving us good results.

    EDITOR NOTE–Given your position on an “added layer,” would you favor abolishing the library board, park board, airport commission, P&Z? If we don’t need citizen participation in the biggest city department, why have citizens involved in the smaller depts.?

  7. Boise Lawyer
    Apr 24, 2021, 3:13 pm

    Guardian: yes, except PZ. That one is a different animal because it has a substantive procedural role and not just an advisory or oversight role.

    The rest of your examples are bureaucracy. They may make the public happier with its government because they create a veneer of public participation but I doubt those commissions make their departments run meaningfully better.

    Also, to clarify, my recollection is that parks and the airport are both bigger than police. Not that it matters, however, because I disagree with you that the size of a city department is the test for whether it needs a commission. The test is whether a commission would help or hinder that department in its mission.

  8. FIRST- Editor, the statement of “the first person they selected to act as a representative for the public was a woman whose first statement”
    .
    It is irrelevant the person was a woman. That is a fact.
    Therefore, that would be a sexist comment by any current standard. Who was that person? Public employee being on the role for 1 day ought to be known already. Just for transparency, of course.
    Was Candidate #2 female?
    Remember 50 years ago when you covered the cop beat for the Statesman and that statement was perfectly fine?
    .
    Now it is 2021:
    Women are equal people.
    Black Lives Matter.
    And cops LIE to protect their own.
    .
    This has been a BPD issue for a long time. Early coverage by the Guardian in 2006 https://boiseguardian.com/2006/10/25/when-is-a-cop-not-a-cop/

    If the Guardian was as dogged against the BPD (the biggest city department- ought to be the biggest portion of Guardian coverage and critique) as it is against creative financing, perhaps BPD would already have a Police Commission.

    EDITOR NOTE 4/29/21–Today three finalists for appointment to the Idaho Supreme Court were announced. The legacy media identified all three as female. They also failed to note gender of those who were not selected as finalists. Also noted President Biden made special note during speech that both the Speaker and Vice President were female.

  9. Concerned Neighbor
    Apr 24, 2021, 7:47 pm

    Boise Lawyer – BPD is failing. Traffic deaths have doubled because safety laws are no longer enforced. Non-patrol spending is double what similar police departments spend – wasted on “woke” training – ie racist and pro-crime.

    I count an average of 1 car running a red light at every intersection now. A group of teens chased off a family at a park near me. Homeless beggars are getting more aggressive. I saw someone pepper sprayed on Overland and it never hit the news, probably not even reported.

    I’ve been to every state and worked in a couple dozen large cities. The direction that Boise is headed is both obvious and destructive. I’ve already started contemplating where to move to get out.

  10. Caeth’s idea about consolidation is interesting. As long as we’re at it, let’s do fire, too.

    EDITOR NOTE–I was on a committee 40 years ago to create a countywide fire district and there was so much pushback that it didn’t have a chance. Too many pay scales, insurance ratings, response times, jurisdictions, areas with no tax base, etc. Like schools, everyone wanted their own district and firefighters. For context, that was about when we got ACHD and Ada County EMS.
    –Dave

  11. I question who the BPD takes their direction from? Does most of their direction come from the union that represents them? Or our elected public servants and Boise ans? Cause we pay their wage? DON’T WE.

    I agree with concerned Our BPD can’t even enforce the rules of the road?! As outpaced growth continues, I find our streets more dangerous from the lack of drivers following the rules of the road!

    The BPD getting publicity for educating drivers vs. enforcing codes with the hands free LAW! They can’t even enforce license plates on the front bumper of Idaho registered cars? Isn’t there a code for that? As petty a thing to mention those drivers are the ones speeding, going thru stop signs, red lights? Maybe the newcomers are those the BPD is PROTECTING while SERVING their unions?
    Surely the BPD can’t be surprised with lack of respect from those paying their wage?

    I believe most to all Boiseans use our streets for driving, riding, walking so I don’t think it is asking to much to LEAD The way to make them safe!

    Again it might be a petty example of how the BPD works or doesn’t. Depending how you look at it.

    EDITOR NOTE–Be thankful for what we have. Here is a peek at what is becoming a national issue among coppers.

    https://www.berkeleyside.com/2021/02/24/berkeley-police-reform-traffic-stops-racial-disparities

  12. Eastie on a BPD Police Commission:

    1) Do not shoot first.
    2) De-escalate at all times.
    3) You were ‘scared’ is not an excuse
    4) Only 1 (up to 3) designated shooter in hostile cases. Put your guns away yahoos.
    5) Speed chases are coordinate with an emergency helo
    6) Create an emergency helo unit
    7) No MRAPs
    8) Blue uniforms and vehicle not black (dark navy m.a.)
    9) No butt tasering.
    10) Friendly community policing- no aholes, no steroids, no racists allowed.

    Am I nominated????

  13. Editor Notes- Be thankful for what we have?
    Here is a peak at why it now makes sense to reduce petty traffic stops?
    Here is a peak at what has BEEN a REAL issue for Black America for a real long time https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/10/caron-nazario-army-police-guns-pepper-spray

    As an Army veteran, Editor, I would think you and other veterans would be appalled by this violation and would have mentioned it. Thank you for your service, right? And now, you might see this as ample justification for Berkeley’s stance. There are lots of other examples. Oh right… OWG.

    EDITOR NOTE–Not sure of your point here. Are you for or against the Berkley model of less traffic enforcement? One camp says coppers with guns going after minor violations sets the scene for confrontation.

    The other side (including coppers) say it sets the stage for anarchy if motorists can simply drive away and ignore traffic laws.

  14. The point is- there is a reason Berkely and others are going this direction. Anarchy-wth? Half of the posts here cry of the Boise police not enforcing the laws. So already “motorists can simply drive” around and “ignore traffic laws”. Is there anarchy in Boise now? Be thankful for that, what? Or are you really implying something else? I am for the Berkeley model and opposed to racist cops. The bully in the school ground gets detention eventually.

  15. No Easterner
    May 5, 2021, 6:35 pm

    Still censuring?!!!
    Still publishing everything Easterner says!
    What a crock of shit Frazier

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