By Detective Guy Bourgeau
Local 486 board member Boise PD Union
Like all of you I was pretty shocked when news broke recently about our former co-worker Matt Bryngelson. At first I thought it some sick joke but it didn’t take long to figure out it was all true. I’ve known that man for 20 plus years and never could’ve guessed this would happen. I’d never even heard of these groups or knew who Daniel Vinyard was. Twitter was educating me quickly. The more I read, the more disgusted I was. My better half couldn’t even bring herself to read it at all.
I thought I could write a well thought out, big worded essay in this case but then that would’ve been insincere at best, so I spoke with my coworkers and decided the best course would be just putting it out there. I don’t know how to express this adequately but that is simply not how we think here at BPD. I was pretty sure early on that this incident would bring out all the haters saying “ I told you so” and I wasn’t disappointed. They showed up in force looking to reinforce any preconceived notions they already had. I wasn’t worried so much about those folks, despite my efforts to change hearts and minds, sometimes it just won’t happen. We are a part of this community and we are deeply invested in keeping it safe and beautiful despite the many challenges we continue to face.
I started my career in policing back east in 1993, it didn’t take long to realize that was a miserable place to work. When I came to visit Boise in 1998, I figured out quickly that this was a special place. BPD officers cared deeply about the community and I saw what professional policing looked like. I got hired in 2000 and never looked back. Since that date I’ve never seen anything that looked like biased policing or heard any of the beliefs held by Bryngelson. This is a pretty good place to be a police officer, it has great community support and we never fail to recognize that. Almost daily someone thanks us for being there at a football game or on the streets. It’s a great feeling that is not lost on us. It is something we take very seriously and when anyone does something to damage that trust, it hurts us all deeply.
What I did see following the recent revelation was department wide shock and disgust. I’m pretty comfortable speaking on behalf of all my colleagues that we are all incredibly upset and disappointed that we had been fooled all this time. The thought that somehow these are widely held beliefs department wide or in Idaho law enforcement are simply not true. I’ve read the stories that people post saying we will cover for each other, the “Code of Silence” and other conspiracy theories. It is simply crazy to believe that we are going to protect someone like that or any other misdeeds. I’m not about to risk my family or career for the stupid acts of another….. The simple truth is no one hates bad cops more than good cops. These are the ones that give us bad press and damage that trust. Not to mention the peer scrutiny we have in law enforcement is pretty rigorous. We are tougher on each other than anyone can imagine. We all cherish the trust the community has given us and when someone does something to damage that, we take it pretty seriously. I can use words like disgusting, condemnation, saddened, disappointed….. they all apply here. Mr. Bryngleson does not represent ANY of the hardworking officers of the Boise Police Department in any way, shape or form. It’s been a lousy week for all of us.
That brings us to the topic of our mayor. While I agree with her statements condemning Bryngelson and his actions, Mayor Mclean took it a few steps too far. To somehow indicate or imply there is a racist community living in the police department is stupid and insulting. To state we better not “Circle the wagons” is a ridiculous thing to say that only drives a wedge deeper into our relationship with the citizens we serve. Recent surveys show that our citizens give us a 95% satisfaction rate with the service we provide. That’s pretty good in my opinion. But the political grandstanding continues.
Mayor Mclean has indicated she wants to have a third party investigate us, as far as I’m concerned, we welcome that. We love transparency. I’m not sure I can say the same for Mayor Mclean. We have yet to learn who conducted the third party investigation into Chief Lee and we certainly know that City Hall did a horrible job taking our legitimate complaints about Chief Lee very seriously. Transparency certainly wasn’t the word of the day in that case. As a matter of fact, the OPA report still hasn’t been released despite city ordinance requiring it to be publicly posted. So I don’t have a lot of faith in City Hall and Mayor Mclean, it looks like she is more interested in distracting from her failures by casting doubt on what is truly an excellent police department.
I’m not looking to pick a fight or get into a back and forth with anyone and I’m sure people will disagree with some of the things I’ve said. I’m ok with that. I will say this city is our home and we truly love to serve our community as professionally and fairly as possible. We will always condemn any hatred, racism and bigotry to the fullest extent possible. That is one thing that will never change.
To insure more advertising-free Boise Guardian news, please consider financial support.