BPD at a Glance

August 3, 2021

Following recent events, we have met with several community groups and individuals to help explain the investigative process following a critical incident involving the Boise Police Department (BPD). It is our goal to build trust within the community and we believe it is important to explain the processes followed when an investigation of this nature begins. Click here for more information.

October 7, 2020
Police Chief Ryan Lee has made several presentations to City Council over the past few months to address Council Member’s concerns and questions. You can watch video recaps as well as the full presentation here.

June 9, 2020
Boise Police is committed to a community policing philosophy and to hearing the individual voices that make up our community. Recognizing that doing so will enable us to work together to improve the future, we will continue to build upon existing relationships and create new ones so Boise can be a city where everyone can thrive.

Many residents have inquired about various policies, so we’d like to provide additional information about Boise Police Department policies and guiding principles, including topics such as implicit bias, crisis intervention, de-escalation, and use of force.

Use of Force by officers is addressed in and regulated by BPD’s Policy and Procedures Manual which is publicly available online. BPD reviews and amends the policy manual regularly based on new information, national trends and updated tools. BPD also works to limit the need to use force by hiring people with values which reflect the community’s expectations. We then strive every day to build relationships with community members across Boise, investing heavily in training for our officers and working to de-escalate tense or crisis situations if possible. Force is always the least desirable option, and only used when necessary to effect an arrest or protect lives and property.

We also want to discuss how our department’s policies align with the guidelines being advocated for by police reform organizations. While there may be nuances in verbiage, we believe most of our policies and practices directly align with the spirit of what is being asked for in many of the recommendations. Below are summarized portions and excerpts of the department’s Policies and Procedures Manual. This is an effort to be transparent and share our use of force policies and information.

Information Regarding Policies recommended by the 8 Can’t Wait, Campaign Zero

#1 - Policy recommendation - BAN CHOKEHOLDS & STRANGLEHOLDS:

Allowing officers to choke or strangle civilians, in many cases where less lethal force could be used instead, results in the unnecessary death or serious injury of civilians.

On June 26, 2020 BPD announced that it is is suspending the use a vascular neck restraint technique called a Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint (LVNR). There have never been any deaths or serious injuries associated with BPD’s use of the LVNR technique, and it is not a “chokehold,” as it is not intended or designed to obstruct a subject’s airway, but based on a number of factors, including community input, we have decided to discontinue its use at this time. This moratorium will allow BPD to explore options, retrain as necessary, and update our policy.

#2. Policy recommendation - REQUIRE DE-ESCALATION:

Require officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, by communicating with subjects, maintaining distance, and otherwise eliminating the need to use force.

Boise Police Officers receive de-escalation training regularly throughout their careers. The training is continually reviewed and updated. BPD policy requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques during all possible use of force scenarios. Examples of de-escalation techniques include but are not limited to:

  • Utilizing verbal skills and providing a warning prior to the use of force
  • Determining whether the officer may be able to stabilize the situation through the use of time, distance, or positioning to isolate and contain a subject
  • Request for additional personnel to respond or make use of units with specialized training or equipment and alternate resources including Crisis-Intervention Team (CIT) trained officers, Crisis Negotiators and Special Operations Unit members.

(See page 20 of BPD Policy 1.001 Use of Force/Authorization)

#3. Policy recommendation - REQUIRE WARNING BEFORE SHOOTING:

Require officers to give a verbal warning, when possible, before shooting at a civilian.

Officers are required, when possible, to use de-escalation techniques during all possible use of force scenarios. This includes providing a verbal warning prior to the use of force. (See page 20 of BPD Policy 1.001 Use of Force/Authorization)


Require officers to exhaust all other reasonable means before resorting to deadly force.

A police officer shall never employ unnecessary force or violence and shall use only such force in the discharge of duty as is objectively reasonable in all circumstances. The decision to use force should be based on the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including the severity of the crime, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or others, and whether the suspect is
actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight. While the use of force is occasionally unavoidable, every police officer shall refrain from unnecessary infliction of pain or suffering and shall never engage in cruel, degrading, or inhumane treatment of any person. (See page 20 of BPD Policy 1.002 Use of Force Application)

#5. Policy recommendation - DUTY TO INTERVENE:

Require officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor.

Officers are taught ethical intervention in our de-escalation and implicit bias Training. BPD policy also states that an employee shall report to their supervisor any information coming to their attention tending to indicate any employee has violated a law, rule, regulation, or order. (See page 74 of BPD Policy 11.037 Duty to Report Information)

#6. Policy recommendation - BAN SHOOTING AT MOVING VEHICLES:

Restrict officers from shooting at moving vehicles, which is regarded as a particularly dangerous and ineffective tactic.

An officer shall not discharge a firearm at a vehicle or its occupants in response to a threat posed solely by the vehicle, except under certain extreme circumstances. (See page 21 of BPD Policy 1.004 Use of Firearms From and At a Moving Vehicle)

#7. Policy recommendation - REQUIRE USE OF FORCE CONTINUUM:

Develop a Force Continuum that limits the types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance.

While the reasoning behind this recommendation is well-intentioned, the concept of a Use of Force Continuum is somewhat antiquated in modern policing. In our use of force procedures, the department outlines the criteria for any use of force as well as officer and supervisor responsibilities.

BPD has moved away from a set “use of force continuum” many years ago, instead opting for a policy requiring the “appropriate” level of force be used in any given situation. For example, if a person threatens or is shooting at another person or officer with a firearm, officers are not required to use a taser or pepper spray before they can use deadly force, as those force options would be highly unlikely to stop the threat, and lives could be lost in the time taken to exhaust those other options before using deadly force. Boise Police officers are trained to match the level of force presented and use the least amount and/or most appropriate level of force necessary to protect citizens and themselves.

#8. Policy recommendation - REQUIRE COMPREHENSIVE REPORTING:

Require officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force against civilians.

All uses of force are required to be documented in a departmental report. Any use of force more than soft empty hand techniques requires notification to a supervisor and documentation of an Administration Use of Force Review. Threats of force are not addressed in policy. (See page 128 of BPD Procedure P-1.001 Authorization)

Policies and Procedures

The Boise Police Department recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice to anyone. Entrusting officers with the authority to use reasonable force and to protect the public welfare requires monitoring, evaluation and a careful balancing of all interests. We believe our policies are in line with many of the recommendations made, and our leadership will discuss potential changes in verbiage to more closely align with the recommended practices.

We hear you, and we know there may continue to be questions about our policies, which is why we have this page now dedicated to covering these topics in further detail.

View Boise Police's Policy and Procedures Manual

In addition to the above, we have multiple tools in place to help ensure accountability to these policies including:

  • Body-worn cameras by police
    • As of 2017, all uniformed patrol officers are equipped with body-worn cameras
  • Office of Internal Affairs
    • Overseen by Professional Standards and Development Captain
    • 2 civilian investigators
    • 1 administrative specialist
  • Office of Police Oversight
    • Independent of the Boise Police Department
    • Reports to Mayor and City Council
    • Staffed by a director, analyst and 3 investigators

BPD Budget Infographic

BPD Budget

Over the years, the Boise Police Department’s budget has shifted to fund efforts that support a community policing model. The largest budget item is for patrol and supports the officers who respond to emergency and non-emergency calls for service. Many of the other budget lines support officers in outreach roles including SRO’s, Bike Patrol and Neighborhood Contact Officers who work with communities to identify and solve ongoing problems. We also have smaller programs within some of these budget lines that included programs like our Behavioral Health Response team and Community Service Specialists. Both of those groups include civilians who respond to non-violent calls for service. We don’t consider ourselves a “militarized” agency and we haven’t received excess equipment from the Department of Defense (the 1033 program) in recent years. BPD does spend money on firearms and personal protective equipment for our officers. You can see more about our specialized units here.

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