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Boise Police Department talks crime, community policing in community discussion

Is Boise safe discussion.jpg
Posted at 7:56 PM, Nov 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-21 21:56:34-05

BOISE, Idaho — Recent events including the Boise mall shooting are leaving some community members wondering if Boise is becoming more dangerous.

The Idaho Black History Museum held a discussion with Boise Police officers, a local rabbi and former State Senator and social worker, Cheri Buckner-Webb Sunday to address these concerns.

"The officers and I as we were going around the community--as I was talking to people--the sense of unease that occurred in the wake of the events that happened in the last month, you could feel it," Boise Police Chief, Ryan Lee said.

This unease is what led the Idaho Black History Museum to host this discussion.

"I think the biggest thing is like, any concerns someone has, it's not our intention to say "Hey those concerns are unfounded or unnecessary," but put really, put it in perspective of what really has transpired," Phillip Thompson, the executive director of the Idaho Black History Museum said.

As we've reported, BPD said despite recent events, crime in Boise is on a downward trend and the top calls for service aren't necessarily related to crime.

From January to June 2021 most calls were for welfare checks, citizen assists, commercial burglary alarms, problems with a subject, domestic disputes, suspicious vehicles, crashes, theft reports and supplemental information.

BPD calls for service

Chief Lee said every BPD officer gets 40 hours of crisis intervention training to equip them to handle calls that could be related to a mental health crisis, "That is in most other police departments. That is the standard, 40 hours of training, is the standard to be on a specialized crisis intervention team."

BPD does have a specialized behavioral health team with two behavioral health officers and two civilian social workers who follow up after a mental health crisis call another officer has responded to...Officers can also call them for help while responding to one of these calls.

Someone who attended Sunday's discussion asked why this team isn't the one responding to mental health crisis calls to begin with.

"We don't have the staffing to where those officers and clinicians are the ones going initially. Additionally, those clinicians are civilians and we have to be mindful of placing them in the danger of certain calls," Lt. Jeff Niiya said.

Chief lee said they are considering expanding the team, but current labor shortages are affecting both recruiting police officers and mental health professionals.

As we reported over the summer, BPD has a community policing department. These are officers whose whole job is to be out in the community interacting with people.

This is to make sure the community is being policed the way they want to be policed and to stay ahead of small issues that could become big issues.

"They have to do their part and build the bridges, but the community--we have to speak up," Rabbi Daniel Fink said.

Boise residents can reach out to the police department to find out who the assigned police officer is for their neighborhood. BPD said they've also tried to make sure each neighborhood association knows who their assigned police officers is.