Investigation at the Boise Police Department
The lead investigator and attorney for two city workers are at odds over their involvement in the ongoing investigation into racism in the Boise Police Department.
Michael Bromwich, the lead researcher with Washington DC firm Steptoe & Johnsonsaid the Boise Police Department Internal Affairs Captain Tom Fleming and recently discontinued Director of the Police Office Iesu Jara has declined interviews with his company. The lawyer of Jara and Fleming Grady Hepworth has disputed this situation and said that his clients are happy to participate in the investigation, but only if the questions can be answered in writing.
Mayor Lauren McLean started this research because of revelations that retired police captain Matthew Bryngelson was involved in a white supremacist campaign while working for the department. Bromwich, a former DOJ inspector, was hired to see if Bryngelson’s views had any effect on the department’s policies, how it was policed, who was promoted or demoted, complaints or some experiences over the years Bryngelson has worked at BPD.
Bromwich said his company is still waiting on the documents his team requested from the Boise Police Department and does not know when the investigation will be completed.
Trial, testimony and interviews
In an interview with BoiseDev, Bromwich said that Fleming and Jara’s refusal to participate in an interview did not interest him because of their role in seeing complaints about BPD, both internally and externally. general. According to him, researchers of all kinds at the local, state and federal levels usually conduct interviews in person rather than written questions because it allows the researcher to ask follow-up questions and hear from the It matters what they say, rather than what they are. write the answer of the lawyer or another third party.
“Between the two of them they are the most important accountability positions on the Boise Police Department,” Bromwich said. “We are interested in their relationship and communication with Matthew Bryngelson … as well as in general how complaints about racism in the department are handled, whether they are thoroughly investigated or dismissed.”
Hepworth said his clients could not attend a hearing because it could taint evidence in Fleming’s and Jara’s lawsuits against the city, in which they allege retaliation and discrimination. Their suits came amid a flurry of incidents involving complaints against former police officers Mr. Ryan Lee resigned at McLean’s request last year.
“As a lawyer representing them, I am also bound by ethical duties to preserve evidence, and written questions/answers are required to be given to the city attorneys who appear. in litigation—the law firm of Jones Williams Fuhrman Gourley, PA (Daniel Williams and Erika Judd), “he wrote in an email. “The written questions/answers are as much for their benefit as anyone’s, because concerns that have been raised by my clients and city leaders about potential bias, discrimination, and retaliation.”
In response to Hepworth’s comments, Bromwich said that none of the city’s staff would be present for any interviews, and that no information from the interviews would be released to anyone outside of the company and anyone who is interviewed to get an initial evaluation of them. information.
“Ultimately, interviews are voluntary,” Bromwich concluded his email. “Mr. Fleming and Mr. Jara at any time refused to answer any questions related to their civil rights or ended the interview altogether. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to understand how their decision could be anything other than a decision not to cooperate with our investigation.
How is the next survey?
Bromwich can’t reveal many details, but he is “generally pleased” with the way things are progressing.
He and his staff have made two trips to Boise so far to interview more than a dozen people. Although the focus of the study is on Bryngelson and his influence after many years in the department, Bromwich said that a main goal of the study is to understand the culture of the department, including. recent events regarding Lee’s activities and departure.
Bromwich also confirmed that Bryngelson himself refused to participate in an interview for the investigation.
McLean’s critics have slammed the investigation and some on social media have called it a “witch hunt” and other actions by the mayor’s office to paint all Boise police officers as racists. Bromwich says this is not true and that his investigative team is working independently of the mayor and any political goals. He just wants to highlight what, if anything, is going on in the department surrounding Bryngelson’s influence and how. affect police marking procedures.
“People who sat down for interviews said they were reluctant to do it because there is a general feeling that our investigation is politically motivated and couldn’t be further from the truth,” said a Bromwich. “This is an independent study and everyone we talked to said ‘after talking to you I feel more comfortable and I will tell people that you are asking the right questions’. “