Boise Mayor Lauren McLean explains Chief Lee’s resignation


Boise Mayor Lauren McLean in an interview with the Idaho statesman shed some light on the resignation of Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee and the city’s decision-making process.

In an interview with the Statesman, McLean said much of the decision to call for Lee’s resignation was due to a changing “landscape” and the “unprecedented step” of making staff complaints public. McLean was referring to an article published by KTVB which detail the employees’ allegations against Lee.

In emails reviewed by the Idaho statesman, first reported by KTVB, a Boise police supervisor said he took complaints from several other staff and submitted them to the Human Resources Department and the City Police Accountability Office. A February email from the supervisor detailed nearly a dozen complaints against Lee, including allegations that he retaliated against officers, made derogatory comments about residents and provided ‘substandard training’. at the department.

Less than 24 hours after the allegations were published, McLean asked Lee to step down, although in Thursday’s interview McLean said Lee’s management issues also played into the decision.

McLean told the Statesman that the morning of the day she called for Lee’s resignation, she received a call from the union leadership of the Boise Police Department. During that call, she said, she learned that the union was also having conversations about Lee’s management style and that some of the changes weren’t working.

“If these management interventions don’t work, and we’re now sending a department manager into an environment where employees and former employees are speaking publicly about these personnel issues,” McLean told the Statesman, “I had to wonder If it could Chief continue to do the work the community expects The department needs What I expect This ultimately led to Lee’s resignation, McLean said.

McLean said the management conversations consisted of steps on how to communicate better, “executive coaching” and working to make the policy changes the city council wants.

“It wasn’t that the information in the KTVB story was particularly new,” city spokeswoman Maria Weeg told The Statesman during the interview. “It was the change in environment brought about by the public release of what is traditionally private personnel matters.”

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Boise Mayor Lauren McLean talks about the decisions surrounding the departure of former police chief Ryan Lee during an interview with the Idaho statesman Thursday at his City Hall office . Sarah A.Miller [email protected]

McLean: OPA memo was ‘not authorized by their order’

In the interview with the statesman, McLean took issue with Office of Police Accountability Director Jesus Jara’s decision to make a recommendation that “meddle in personnel issues,” which, according to the mayor, was “not authorized by their ordinance”.

That memo “made a recommendation that was squarely in the (human resources) space, the personnel space, which is not part of his clearance,” McLean said.

City Police Accountability Office arrangementpassed July 2021, directs the bureau to investigate complaints against Boise police employees, audit internal affairs investigations, and make policy recommendations “related to policing matters of significant public interest” .

The bureau’s jurisdiction includes citizen complaints, critical incidents — such as police shootings — and allegations “which, if true, would constitute a violation of federal, state, or local law, BPD policy, or policy of the city of Boise”.

The mayor also questioned why a third party was asked to conduct a review. In the memo, Jara said the Office of Police Accountability may pursue the investigation, but added that “the complexity of the concerns may require a third-party firm” specializing in employment law and work environments. potentially hostile.

“That’s a question some of us have, and it’s one of those policies and procedures that we need to look at, because in all other cases the office is gathering information and investigating,” she said. “But instead it ended here.”

Complaints sent to several Boise departments

McLean said duty officers file complaints through multiple departments as if they were “on-site shopping,” unlike other city employees who can only file complaints through the department. human resources. Besides human resources, officers in Boise could potentially file complaints through the Office of Police Accountability, Internal Affairs or their supervisors.

“What we found was that it was like shopping,” McLean said. “Complaints filed here, complaints filed here, complaints filed here, complaints filed here – and no other City of Boise employee can.”

Emails reviewed by the statesman showed the allegations against Lee were first reported by a Boise police supervisor to the human resources department in January – nine months before Lee resigned. McLean was made aware of the allegations at least as early as April, according to email records.

The emails about the allegations and Jara’s memo were provided to the statesman by a source after reporters were unable to obtain them through the city’s public records process. The city denied the statesman’s request for documents regarding documents related to the September 15 and 23 allegations. The city provided the statesman with heavily redacted versions of some of the recordings Thursday.

The human resources department — according to a Feb. 9 email from employee relations manager Sarah Martin — recommended that the complaints be forwarded to Internal Affairs, which is overseen by Lee. This was after consulting with the city’s legal team, according to the email.

Martin in his email also wrote that if the supervisor has “concerns about the alleged treatment of other people in the department, if those people believe their treatment violates BPD city policies”, the employee should Report the allegation to their supervisor, Human Resources, Internal Public Affairs or the Office of Police Accountability.

The decision to have the complaints investigated by Internal Affairs did not come without setbacks. In a Feb. 10 email from the Boise Police Supervisor, he replied to Martin that it was a “clear conflict of interest” for Internal Affairs to investigate the chief.

The Boise police supervisor said he filed the complaint with human resources “to avoid any potential conflicts of interest” and to follow city policy.

McLean told the Statesman that there was a need to create a “clear process” for duty officers to file complaints through a single location against duty officers.

McLean also said she asked the city’s organizational development team to do an assessment of the Boise Police Department to find out “what they need in terms of leadership” and “in terms of support.” .

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Boise Mayor Lauren McLean talks about the decisions surrounding the departure of former police chief Ryan Lee during an interview with the Idaho statesman Thursday at his City Hall office . Sarah A.Miller [email protected]

Complaint Details

McLean told the Statesman that the Office of Police Accountability had received nine complaints about Lee, from a “department of nearly 400 people.”

The memo written by Jara and reviewed by the statesman said the office had met with “nine people” who had complaints, including senior leaders. The memo also said the office was “responsible for taking statements from numerous BPD employees.”

A Feb. 4 email showed at least a dozen complaints reported to just one of the nine people who spoke with Jara.

On the recommendation of the police accountability office, a third-party company reviewed the complaints and found that no crimes were committed and no policies were violated, the mayor said.

The mayor declined to say which law firm conducted the review, noting that the firm’s findings were “straightforward in personal space” and contain “a lot of identifying information about the officers.”

Some of those management interventions were based on the company’s review recommendations, which the mayor said his office did “immediately,” including asking the police chief and leadership to begin to “develop policies”. The mayor also “offered executive coaching,” she said.

Council members were not consulted before the resignation

As the mayor consulted with city council leaders on Sept. 23, the day McLean asked Lee to step down, she said she hadn’t spoken to every member of council and wished she had.

“I know the council was frustrated that they didn’t call them all individually,” she told the Statesman. “I wish I had picked up the phone with the other four rather than just talking to the leaders.” City Council leadership includes Council Chair Elaine Clegg and Council Chair Pro Tem Holli Woodings.

Shortly after the leader’s resignation, council member Luci Willits said she was “blindsided” by the news.

“I really wish I had gotten a call saying the mayor was asking the police chief to step down,” Willits told the Statesman by phone last week. “As a council member, I expected this courtesy.”

Council members Patrick Bagant and Jimmy Hallyburton told the Statesman in telephone interviews that they were “surprised” and “shocked”.

This story was originally published October 6, 2022 4:03 p.m.

Ian Max Stevenson covers the city of Boise and climate change at the Idaho Statesman. If you enjoy seeing stories like this, consider supporting our work by subscribing to our journal.
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Alex Brizee covers breaking news and crime for the Idaho statesman. Originally from Miami and a graduate of the University of Idaho, she has lived all over the United States. Go Vandals! In her spare time, she enjoys pad Thai, cuddling with her dog, and strong coffee.
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