Updates and recommendations from the Boise Police Department racism investigation

Matt Bryngelson
Posted at 9:46 PM, May 16, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — In a Boise city council meeting on May 16, attorney and lead investigator Michael Bromwich presented an update on his investigation into the Boise Police Department after Twitter user Molly Conger compiled evidence indicating a BPD captain was involved in a far-right hate group.

Former BPD officer Matt Bryngelson had been listed as a speaker at the American Renaissance conference under the pseudonym Daniel Vinyard. The American Renaissance is designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

Bryngelson would also appear on the American Renaissance website during his time as a captain with the BPD. One video featuring Bryngelson shows the ex-officer expressing racist views in the context of his experience as a white officer.

RELATED | Boise Mayor Launching Investigation of Retired Police Officers Participation in White Nationalist Conference

This situation inspired Boise Mayor Lauren McLean to launch an investigation that sought to understand the culture within the department and create a non-discriminatory environment. Michael Bromwich was selected due to his experience which spans over 29 years in law enforcement oversight.

Lauren McLean

In the city council meeting, Bromwich presented an overview of the investigation as well as a presentation of the provisional findings and recommendations by the investigative team.

Bromwich explained that the investigation revealed a theme of racist thought throughout Officer Bryngelson's career, spanning as far back as his training in Chula Vista, California. Bryngelson had written his thoughts about his black peers while training and shared them on the American Renaissance website.

The investigation was not limited to uncovering more information about former Officer Bryngelson. As Bromwich continued his presentation, he discussed the interview phase which involved a questionnaire being sent to all employees at the Boise Police Department which focused on company culture, employee comfort level and potential discrimination.

The provisional findings from this investigation showed that most minority officers reported that they do not experience discrimination in the department, but Bromwich noted that "a small but significant" number of those at the BPD did experience some kind of discrimination.

Additionally, the investigation revealed concerns raised by officers about Bryngelson via a survey that was distributed to gauge his qualifications for promotion. These concerns characterized Officer Bryngelson as lazy, demeaning and negative.

Recommendations for the department from the investigative team included:

  1. Prioritize minority recruitment. As Boise changes, so too should its law enforcement.
  2. Despite hiring challenges, do not lower standards for recruits.
  3. Ensure more rigorous recruit training.
  4. Ensure that bodycam footage includes sound.

"You need to fight against insularity, you need to welcome outside scrutiny, you need to learn from other departments in order to be the best department you can be," said Bromwich as he concluded his report during the meeting.
All of these recommendations and details have been shared before the completion of the investigation which Bromwich explained would involve a review of the 105,000 documents compiled in the investigation, a review of bodycam footage and witness interviews regarding officer behavior.