By GUY BOURGEAU
Boise Police Union president
I am compelled to offer a public statement regarding the recent “investigation” of the Boise Police Department. To think that 500k dollars at a rate of $800 per hour plus expenses was going to go very far was simply foolish. Money that could’ve gone much further if it had been employed locally for a much better value. I think everyone realizes this window dressing was simply a ploy to distract from the real issues, poor leadership at city hall.
I had the chance to speak with Mr. Bromwich, and we both agreed on one thing. The Mayor had deceived us both. Steptoe and associates were hired for a wide ranging investigation on multiple issues. Boise police officers were advised this was a singular issue, retired Captain Bryngelson and his views. An instant level of distrust was created in those first interviews due to the lack of transparency thanks to City Hall. Yet the end result was as expected, this subculture did not exist. An extra $150k got you a Zoom presentation. Money well spent?
There is no question the Mayor saw an opportunity to distract from all of the city hall issues concerning her poor management of public safety in the city, the Office of Public Accountability and the police chief fiasco. Not one to let anything go to waste, she turned and ambushed the entire police department and our relationships with the community for political survival. Politics at their worst.
As far as the Steptoe report, I can’t honestly say that project was money well spent. The union has always supported higher standards, including the use of the polygraph to vet out inadequate candidates. We truly only want the best for our community.
The promotional process is not as limited as Chief Winegar would allow you to believe. It is an arduous process that produces a list of qualified candidates. The Chief has wide latitude to remove candidates based on just cause, thereby eliminating the possibility of subjective bias of office politics. His “hands are tied” mantra, is yet another way of saying he doesn’t want to make tough decisions. Council member Bageant misinterpreted this process based on what the Chief led him to believe.
Hiring a captain from outside in charge of training who rapidly became an absentee landlord, more interested in his personal business ventures rather than his primary job, was another failed experiment.
I watched Chief Winegar’s assessment of leadership issues and his focus was off. I believe Mr. Bromwich was suggesting top level leadership was problematic, an ongoing issue with our command structure, not at the ground level. Leaders should rise to the top by virtue of their character, not by groups of friends or cliques as Bromwich suggested. A retired captain comes immediately to mind.
Performance evaluations have always been supported by the union, and failed only because over the years, command at the police department failed to hold people accountable for completing them. This deficiency had nothing to do with the union or the contract, as Chief Winegar suggested.
I never thought for a moment that I would ever have to defend our failure rate of the academy, but we have a success rate of about 75% in the field training portion of the process, about par for the course in law enforcement. We only want the best for BPD and the training is rigorous. Chief Lee was not responsible for this, he actually wanted to lower standards and remove the polygraph.
Bromwich did get a few things right, for that I will give him credit. However, at the price of $700k, I think there was a far more efficient way to spend taxpayer dollars with the same or better result. If the Mayor had been more clear and less reactive, and actually pursued this matter for a less politically motivated goal, maybe we could’ve done better.
At the end of the day, Mayor Mclean has only succeeded in making recruitment and retention more difficult and tainted the reputation of what is one of the finest police departments in the northwest.
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