Boise Police Department explains "administrative leave" in light of fatal foothills shooting

Posted at 10:34 PM, Mar 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-21 00:34:06-04

Six officers with the Boise Police Department are on paid administrative leave after firing their weapons in a deadly shooting Saturday in the Boise foothills. 

On Your Side viewers expressed concerns about the officers being placed on leave, but the department explains it's standard protocol.

"The perception out there for some people might be, 'Oh, they shoot someone and get three days off,'" Captain Rob Winegar said. "And it's not really about that."

The incident in the foothills Saturday left 42-year-old Benjamin Barnes dead from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Authorities say the man fired shots at officers after fatally shooting a hiker's dog. Six officers with the Boise Police Department returned fire.

"It's a pretty big deal to an officer in their life. In many cases it's life changing for them," Captain Winegar said. "It's not something that we take lightly and it's something we investigate fully."

Captain Winegar says the main purpose behind administrative leave following a critical incident is to allow officers a chance to reflect, and "reset".

"We don't hire robots, we hire people, and people involved in these situations have a variety of reactions," Winegar said.

For the Boise Police Department, administrative leave following a critical incident is set at a minimum of three days, but can extend beyond that by a case-by-case basis.

Over the course of those three days, officers are formally interviewed by the Critical Incident Task Force investigating the situation, and are required to meet with a counselor.

"We reach out to those officers and give  them some advice from folks who have been involved in those types of situations before," Winegar said.

Winegar also says it's incredibly important to give the officers time to mentally prepare for the possibility of winding up in that situation again.

"You know, the very next call they might go to could be another life and death situation where they have to make a decision," Winegar said. "We want to make sure they're squared away and ready to do that again."