Boise Mayor McLean has ‘conversations about management’ over police chief complaints

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean told the Idaho Statesman on Friday that she was actively reviewing Police Chief Ryan Lee’s role at the department, and was meeting with city officials to discuss the issue.

Lee’s management of the department has come into question in recent months, since a county prosecutor’s office investigated whether Lee had assaulted a subordinate, and amid reports that officers have filed complaints with the department and city agencies about the chief’s behavior.

McLean told Statesman Opinion Editor Scott McIntosh on Friday that she had “conversations about management” at the department.

In response to a question about her confidence in Lee’s leadership, she said, “That is the biggest question.”

“I’ve had conversations with him. I’m talking today with the union,” McLean said. “I’m talking today with the City Council. And we’re creating a path forward.”

The police union is in the process of negotiating a new contract with the city.

Late in August, Clearwater County Prosecutor Clayne Tyler recommended against charging Lee with any crime after he allegedly injured a subordinate during a neck restraint demonstration at a staff meeting last year. But the prosecutor wrote in a letter to the mayor and others that recommending against lodging charges was a “close call.”

KTVB reported on Thursday that nine officers filed complaints against Lee last spring. That prompted a review by the Office of Police Accountability, which is a city agency. The agency and an outside firm conducted a review, which found there was no violation of city or police policy, KTVB reported. Lee was not suspended with pay during the review.

Earlier this month, the Statesman requested “any and all complaints, digital or physical complaints, that were submitted to the Office of Police Accountability” regarding Lee in the past year. On Sept. 15, the city denied the request, citing Idaho Public Records Act exemptions for personnel records.

The Boise Police Department has also previously denied multiple requests by the Statesman to interview Lee.

Reforms: ‘It’s been a lot of change’

On Friday, McLean said the department has undergone a number of reforms, including eliminating no-knock entries without a judge’s warrant, instituting new training, requiring body cameras for all officers and pushing for more transparency with body camera footage after shootings. The Office of Police Accountability previously recommended that the city council pass an ordinance to stop officers from muting the microphones on their body cameras, according to prior Statesman reporting.

The police department also suspended the use of the lateral vascular neck restraint technique in 2020, although the hold can be used when deadly force is authorized.

“It’s been a lot of change, and it’s hard to manage that change,” McLean said. “Yet we expect — I expect — that change be managed in a way that creates a safe and healthy environment and supports our officers because our officers are on the frontlines, and they care for this community, and they’re doing the work we” re asking them to do.”

McLean said she has been “monitoring various complaints and investigations” and has “directed new discipline matrices.”

The mayor has directed city officials to review policies and procedures related to complaints, she said.

“This will be resolved,” she said.

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