Message from the Chief

September 16, 2019

Police chief
Chief Bill Bones

An open letter to everyone who calls Boise home,

Twenty-seven years ago, I became Boise’s newest police officer. I was given a gift far more valuable than I could understand. I was granted the opportunity to spend a career helping to make a difference.

During my career, I have gone through the highs and lows of serving as a Police Officer. As a young officer, BPD struggled with a lack of trust and the community questioned our professionalism. Since then I have been part of the evolution of a police department. One we built on the shoulders of our past officers to create not only a safer city but a leading model for professionalism, transparency and community trust across our country.

I was part of BPD as we suffered through the loss of our brother, Officer Mark Stall, and then saw the community line the streets for the procession to lay Mark to rest. 20 years later I see a community which still remembers. I held Kris Ware’s hand as paramedics worked on damage wrought to his face and hand from a homemade bomb we discovered while searching a truck. Later I also watched as he fought his way back to full duty. I saw Corporal Holtry suffer from life changing injuries and then inspire a community and police officers across the country with his resiliency and dedication. The letters and cards that people sent to the department covered every available wall in the entire department. Over and again I have watched officers risk their lives and pay incredible mental and physical prices to protect others but watched as those costs were balanced by a community which has come forward to support our officers with open arms.

So many moments make up a career. Among those that I will never forget is the young man who approached me to ask if I remember an arrest from years ago, first telling me it was him and then thanking me for changing his life. The time I taught a seven-year-old refugee girl who had been in the United States one whole week to ride her first bike thanks to the Boise Bike Project. The time I was given two paper cranes with a message of hope, peace and kindness from a little girl who had experienced the worst of attacks against her community. The mornings spent helping so many children shop for the only presents they would receive for Christmas thanks to community contributions for Shop with a Cop. A list too long for this letter but imprinted on my mind.

A police officer’s job is full of stress, lost sleep and heartache at the difficulties they see others suffer. What it makes it all worthwhile though is the hundreds of times children have run up to simply give me a hug because I was a Boise Police Officer. The times I went to a register to pay for lunch only to find out someone had already paid for it anonymously or the countless handshakes with the simple “thank you for your service.”

Police chief speaking at lectern

As with every officer’s family, it is those I love the most who paid the greatest price to allow me to serve as an officer. There were so many nights away from home and weekend events we couldn’t attend because “dad has to work.” Through it all, my wife Jenifer and my daughter Brittaney have not only supported me but have helped blend service and family. When Brittaney was little, I remember taking quick breaks at home in uniform to put her on my lap and read her a bedtime story. Our Christmas mornings were spent volunteering at the Miracle on Idaho Street making so many other families a part of ours. We were able to host an incredible refugee family for Thanksgiving dinner one year and it was a true reminder of what it means to give thanks and make new friends. There were countless events that Dad needed to be at in which both my wife and daughter became incredible ambassadors for BPD. From invites to the Islamic Center, speaking at the Black History Museum, attending rallies and panels, my family has become a part of making that connection with the community and we have been so enriched by the people we have met. As I could never give them both enough thanks, I will simply say to them “I love you.”

The Boise Police Department is made up of men and women who commit themselves to making Boise a better place for everyone to live. A city could not find the future of its police department in better hands. Our officers put the needs, welfare and safety of others before themselves and have helped make Boise one of the safest cities in America. They give voice to those afraid to speak, protect those who find themselves defenseless and stand for the Constitutional and Human Rights of every individual. It has been my distinct honor to serve with these men and women and to have played a small part in the service they provide our community each day.

As with the officers of Boise Police Department, it is the members of this community who make Boise such an incredible place to live. It is not a matter of your legal status in our country, or whether you own your home, or are a Boise native that make you part of this great city. It is the friendly wave you give to a stranger, the small act that allows another’s life to be a little bit better, it’s the commitment to a sense of community that makes Boise the place we know and love.

BPD, the City of Boise, and the members of this community, shall forever hold a special place in my heart. However, as with every book there must be a last chapter. I find it incredibly difficult to close the cover on a career I have loved, but I also recognize a Police Department in a rare moment, poised for its own transition to the next chapter. As difficult as it is to leave, this is the right moment. With absolute gratitude to the men and women of the Boise Police Department and to each of you who make the City of Boise who we are, I announce my forthcoming retirement.

Your soon to be retired Chief of Police

William Lee Bones

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