City Government

Former BPD Chief’s Ideas Could Include Police Commission

Former Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson holds the record for serving as chief longer than any other copper and has established a national reputation among local government leaders.

In an article he co-authored for the August 2020 journal of the International City/County Management Association, Masterson advocated “regular conversations between police chiefs and city leaders. He suggests: There are at least four rationales for regular, structured conversations:

1. To ensure fair and equitable treatment for all residents.

2. To safeguard the rights and justice for victims of crime and discrimination and of those who are most vulnerable.

3. To maintain that ever-fragile trust and confidence in policing placed in us by those we serve. One can argue that confidence in police shapes confidence in local government in general. The police are the most visible symbols of government.

4. Most importantly, to the extent that our policies reflect critical value judgments, they should receive input from and approval by the chief administrator of the city and, in some cases, the city’s legislative body. This is a democracy. The police chief, who is not an elected official, should not be making what can be life-and-death policies for a community without democratic guidance.

When we think about regular conversations between chiefs and their bosses, we do not envision superficial chats but, rather, dialogues that lend insight into how and why policies and procedures exist with the goal of ensuring your office provides the highest level of guidance and direction. Undoubtedly, one reality that needs to be addressed up-front is awkwardness. Local government managers may feel uncomfortable about engaging in these conversations for fear of appearing ignorant about what the police really do or not being able to carry their side of the conversation. Don’t be. Chiefs will be just as nervous about the questions you’ll ask, and both parties will gain comfort over time.

The GUARDIAN suggests that idea can easily be accomplished through a police commission comprised of a cross section of citizens. The commission could be structured to include an office of police oversight as well.

Read the complete article HERE.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Concerned Neighbor
    Apr 26, 2021, 8:32 pm

    A commission and uneducated oversite has nothing to do with what Masterson wrote. What he discussed is an honest 2-way dialog between the BPD Chief and Mayor – a large reason why the past 2 mayors don’t like him… they want someone to order around and follow their politics.

    I wish Masterson was back – Boise would be far safer, BPD would be much more effective, and our tax money spent far better. Maybe the BPD needs to be an elected official out of under the thumb of mayors.

  2. I dislike it when authors make absolute claims that are obviously false. Absolutes are usually not accurate.

    “The police ARE the MOST visible symbols of government.”
    No they are not. Not in my life. I go days without seeing cops. Roads. Toilets. Water. Buses. Those are EVERY DAY and the most visible. What the cops usually ARE, is the most obtrusive, and dangerous symbol of government. Other agencies do not have the ability to kill you and ‘get away with it’, take your property, or take your personal freedom falsely.

    “the police chief, who is not an elected official,” Well in some cities they ARE elected. Mississippi for example has some elected Police Chiefs. So a co-authored retirement piece. It loses my trust at “national reputation” — right, maybe for the SGT NICKEL incident. That was fubar and the top cop should take the hit for it. A lucky break for the chief and certainly huge luck for George that BPD can’t shoot worth a damn.

    From some another police journal: “The biggest obstacles to having an elected police chief are government officials and police oversight boards.” Can’t have your cake and eat it too when you got yer HANDS UP!

  3. Concerned Neighbor: Numerous Municipalities within the County contract with the Ada Co. Sheriff for police services. Why not Boise City? Structures, practices, procedures and precedence are already in place. Little needs to change other than supervisory jurisdiction. That would give you your elected official directly answerable to the public at election time, or more often by recall.

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