Boise Police Chief addresses “defunding the police”

Posted at 1:13 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-26 00:27:59-04

BOISE, Idaho — Defund the police. What does that mean to you?

Does that mean abolish the police? Cleanse society from the profession altogether? Or, perhaps, it means re-allocating funds? Taking money away from police departments and reinvesting it into community-driven programs?

In Boise, a call to defund the city's police department has been made abundantly clear at recent rallies and protests. Idaho News 6 sat down with Boise's new police chief, Ryan Lee, to learn more about the department's stance. He says in times of crisis, defunding the police could have dangerous consequences

Chief Lee, a 20-year Portland Police Alumni, recently took over as Boise's Chief in early July. Lee tells us that from an officer's perspective, abolishing your local police departments can be dangerous when responding to a seemingly controlled mental health call.

"There are times where those situations are highly volatile, and they're uncertain and the police are the appropriate resource," said Lee.

Lee agrees that all officers could benefit from more Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), adding that by the end of 2020, he hopes to have 100% of his department certified in CIT.

Officers are required to complete 40 hours before receiving their certification. Chief Lee says he is also making an effort to provide additional training to officers who request it. As of today, 60% of the department's officers are trained in CIT.

CIT training will not be accounted for in the city's budget. However, the City of Boise will use their annual funding to budget the overtime that officers may acquire to receive the training.

When it comes to "defunding" or "re-allocating" funds for the Boise Police Department, according to the City of Boise, BPD has been redirecting funds from their patrol budget and redistributing to community outreach programs since 1996. Boise Police says the Community Outreach division has grown to nearly 25% of its annual budget.

According to the department, the budget for Patrol Division has reduced from 56% in 1997 to 34% in FY20. But, the department says the reduction in the Patrol Division does not mean a reduced level of service.

Chief Lee says that during his term as Boise's Police Chief, he wants to equip [his officers] with the skills knowledge and ability to go out and serve the community safely and properly; the way the community deserves to be served.

Regarding the community, Chief Lee also says that he wants to develop an open and transparent dashboard for the public, and provide real-time information as the data processing allows because he says he believes it's important.