BOISE, Idaho — On Tuesday, the Boise City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to establish the Office of Police Accountability (OPA), formerly known as the Office of Police Oversight, a place where community members can file complaints against the Boise Police Department.
“This ordinance very clearly gives the Office of Police accountability authority to independently investigate review and auditing police conduct,” said Elaine Clegg, Council President. “The other is access and also very clearly it gives the Office of Police Accountability the power to access any records in the office of an internal investigation at the police department and other police records. And then accountability. This ordinance provides frequent thorough reports to the mayor, council, and the public."
City leaders say the goal is to increase transparency and accountability when complaints are filed against the police department. Before the vote, council members reviewed the community survey results during a work session meeting.
The survey showed, of more than 800 respondents, roughly two-thirds said the program was important while only one in five said it’s not.
“About 63 percent of the community is saying this is a valuable program to have available within in our community," said Maria Weeg, Community Engagement. “Twenty-two percentage to 23 percentage, not so important or not at all important, but I think we can see a very clear view from the community that they see this a valuable thing to add to our community.”
Another question asked in the survey was if people felt comfortable making a complaint against the police department. According to the results, about 61.1 percent said yes, 14.8 percent said no, and 23.6 were not sure.
The city is still working to find a director to lead the office. In the meantime, a spokesperson with the city said Jesus Jara will run the office.
Interviews for the position are still in progress.
“We wanted to make sure the director of this office could himself or herself request an independent investigation that it wouldn't be preventive by anybody from this dais,” Lauren McLean, Boise Mayor. “That’s the independence that we thought was really important.”
Once selected, the new director will give a progress update after their first six months on the job.