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Update proposed for police oversight in Boise

Posted at 10:03 AM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 11:05:05-04

BOISE, Idaho — The City of Boise says it is taking steps to update its civilian police oversight model to an Office of Police Accountability. The move is to "increase accountability and transparency in civilian oversight of the Boise Police Department."

If the Boise City Council approves the change, the Office of Police Accountability will be established through an update to Boise City Code. In the proposed model, the office will have a full-time director who will regularly review findings from the BPD Office of Internal Affairs and participate in critical incident investigations, according to a news release.

The director will review investigations and retain independent investigators for critical incidents when needed. The Office would have "clear oversight" of the chief and command staff of BPD to create robust reporting practices and encourage real-time oversight to promote systemic changes in policing.

"Residents have told us they have confidence in the Boise Police Department and want the city to commit further to accountability and transparency," said Boise Chief of Staff Courtney Washburn. "The Office of Police Accountability will strengthen our civilian oversight in policing, grow community connections and continue to build on the trust between our community and our police department."

If the new model is approved, it will bring defined roles for civilian oversight and structure to complaint investigation and auditing. The City said in the release that this will strengthen accountability, increase transparency and eliminate redundancy.

"This office was formed to ensure transparency and accountability for citizens and the police alike," said Council President Elaine Clegg. "These times require a review so that the police oversight model we are using continues to deliver on that goal."

The City says the proposed model would leverage resources more efficiently and create an effective and approachable police oversight model that continues to partner with the community.

The ordinance had its first reading on April 20. While it makes its way through the process, the City of Boise will recruit a full-time director with strong investigative skills and develop a framework of policies and regulations to support the new office. Residents can still file complaints with the Office of Police Oversight at this time.