Each year, Human Rights Day is observed on December 10 – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It’s a day to recognize the inalienable rights everyone is entitled to as a human being. Our rights are often a topic of conversation and concern when members of the Boise Police Department meet with the community. We know many of you place a high value on safeguarding our human, constitutional and civil rights, and we recognize police officers are viewed as leaders in our community. Rest assured, we take seriously our role to ensure your rights are protected and honored regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. We are not only committed to upholding these rights, but to making them the moral and ethical underpinning of everything we do at the Boise Police Department. To build on that commitment, as a department and as a city we are designing a Human and Civil Rights Education and Immersion Program aimed at providing police officers with an even more nuanced understanding of human, civil, and constitutional rights in America. It’s my honor to highlight aspects of this program to mark Human Rights Day in 2021.
This human and civil rights education program, which to our knowledge is the first of its kind in the nation, will borrow from educational programs designed by American institutions, such as the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Museum of Tolerance, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture as well as the National Museum of the American Indian. We are also connected with local Boise institutions including the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, the Idaho Black History Museum, and academic institutions, to help create a program that ties back to our community. This training program will be mandatory for all our Boise Police employees and leadership teams, both sworn and professional staff. We have already lined out phases of the program which include educational site visits, as well as curriculum foundational to our leadership program. Starting next year, this program will be incorporated into every employee’s career development plan.
The Boise Police Department has worked hard to build a trusting relationship with the community and aiming for high standards is part of our core values. With this program, we will be building on those successes and continuing to push the envelope in policing to provide the type of leadership as well as the understanding and protection of human and civil rights that the community expects.
One of the partners we have been working with had this to say about our efforts, “It's wonderful to see Boise committing to human rights education for police in this way and getting ahead of the curve...,” Jill Savitt, CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Here in Boise, we are lucky to have the amazing Wassmuth Center for Human Rights. If you’re looking for ways to get more involved on this Human Rights Day, we encourage you to visit the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights memorial at 777 S. 8th Street or visit them online at wassmuthcenter.org. It is my honor to serve this community and lead alongside the dedicated members of the Boise Police Department and the City of Boise.
Chief Ryan Lee