Boise Mayor Lacks Significant Credibility To Investigate Police
The relationship between Mayor McLean and Boise Police is becoming a dangerous quagmire. The mayor and city council have approved funding a lawyer from the east coast to investigate one retired police captain for alleged racist comments. The mayor would rather pay $500,000 to a lawyer who was part of the Iran Contra prosecution team than use the resources of the Ada County Prosecutor, The Idaho Attorney General, or an affordable local independent counsel.
There is no fiscal or sane opposition to Mayor McLean's spending spree as the city council gleefully approved funding the investigation. Imagine what $500,000 could do to help victims of domestic violence, overtime for police, and other concrete needs.
The mayor's leadership is lacking, considering she did nothing while her choice for police chief was so wrong she was forced to ask him to resign. The mayor took care of her buddy by giving him $150,000 to leave Boise. Mayor McLean has not called on anyone or hired outside lawyers to investigate her collusion or incompetency in hiring Ryan Lee from Portland.
Boise captain Files Complaint Against Boise
The old saying, timing is everything, defines the current situation. The Idaho Statesman reported that Matthew Bryngelson, the retired Boise police captain accused of racism, filed a complaint against the city, saying the department discriminated against him due to his age. The complaint was sent to Idaho's Human Rights Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Back to our timing reference, the complaints were filed two weeks before the mayor became informed of the statements and videos from Bryngelson. From the Statesman, "The Bryngelson complaint alleges that he had been "diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety," and that in September 2021 he became "despondent and suicidal as a result of the harassment and workplace hostility from Chief Ryan Lee."
Mayor McLean must understand that transparency is a two-way street. We hope that Boise's leader will not mimic the lack of transparency from her political mentor Joe Biden. The mayor has opened up another front in her zeal to reform the police in her image by removing Jesus Jara, the director of the Office of Police Accountability. KTVB details why Mayor McLean suspended Mr. Jara.
The officer also filed complaints to the city about Chief Lee last year. His attorneys told the television station that the mayor's move was a "calculated political stunt" and "defamatory."
Do You Believe the Mayor or the Boise Police?
The charges and counter-charges involving the mayor and the police department have eroded the public trust in both institutions. How can anyone take the word of Mayor McLean when she did nothing while her Chief Lee destroyed Boise's beloved police department? The city should demand that the state's attorney general office investigate her leadership and lack of oversight.
Can Boise trust a mayor that gave herself a pass on Chief Lee, who is now thoroughly investigating the Boise Police? Is it beyond comprehension that these investigations are payback for Mr. Lee's departure? Elected officials need to be held to the highest standards. Is Boise's mayor up to that standard, or should we take her word that she's representing our best public interest?
UPDATE MAYOR REMOVES JARA
This just release just in from the mayor's office:
OPA Director, Jesus Jara, has been removed from his position with the city during a special meeting of the Boise City Council this morning. This action comes a week after Jara was placed on administrative leave in response to ongoing concerns with professional judgement and lack of confidence in the actions of the office.
“In early November, my office learned that Jesus Jara was conducting unauthorized surveillance of community members. I believe he was effectively exploiting his access for audits to the system by randomly viewing over 8,000 videos, almost exclusively without cause. This is a serious violation of the privacy of our residents and a worrisome erosion of the trust we intended to build with the OPA model of oversight,” said Mayor Lauren McLean.
“I'm deeply concerned about the invasion of privacy this unauthorized surveillance constitutes. Our residents are often at their most vulnerable when they call the police to intervene when other measures have fallen short. This is what is important to remember: the body cam footage captures – first and foremost – the people our officers are interacting with. Parents trying to protect their kids, women experiencing domestic violence, people in vulnerable situations. If the public believed that there was a chance that they'd be watched – at random - if they called the police, would they be less likely to call when they need help? That’s the first thing that went through my mind. Our community deserves to know those interactions, while recorded, are protected unless and until there is a compelling reason for a stranger to view the interaction. The intrusion of privacy caused by a director acting outside the bounds of the ordinance authorizing his work is untenable.
Our city has had three oversight models in the last twenty years. Oversight of oversight has been difficult with all of them. As we seek to balance the independence effective police oversight requires with ensuring the privacy rights of our community and our officers, I'm committed, together with council, to look at what's needed and how we can best provide that moving forward.”
In a meeting held on November 22, 2022, Jara reported viewing over 8,000 body-cam videos in 2022.
“As difficult as this is, I have simply lost confidence in Mr. Jara’s ability to lead this office, based not on one but multiple actions. An office founded on the idea of transparency and intended to build trust between our police department and our community cannot, itself, veer into unauthorized activity,” said Council President Elaine Clegg.
Council President Pro Tem, Holli Woodings added, “The extent of Mr. Jara’s review of police body cam footage, which is not authorized by city policy, is a gross violation of privacy for our residents, often in their worst moments. This behavior has completely eroded my confidence in Mr. Jara to lead an office that is intended to serve our community.”
“It is imperative that we take steps, difficult and painful as they may be, to ensure that our staff and members of the public are protected from unauthorized surveillance activities,” commented Councilmember Lisa Sánchez.
Councilmember Jimmy Hallyburton, who joins Clegg and Woodings in overseeing OPA stated, “I have lost confidence in Director Jara's ability to continue as the Director of Police Accountability, nor do I believe it is in the public's best interest.”
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