Member Login

McLean to hire former DOJ Inspector General for investigation following racist comments from former BPD captain

Boise Police logo
Investigations at the Boise Police Department
BoiseDev complete coverage

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, flanked by the city’s political and police leadership, announced she intends to hire former Department of Justice Inspector General Michael R. Bromwich to lead up an investigation into city policing practices.

McLean announced last week that she would move to hire an independent investigator after writings and videos from former BPD Captain Matt Bryngelson came to light last week. Bryngelson was set to speak at a conference for white supremacists, and some of his writings appeared online while he was still employed by the city at BPD. Bryngelson retired in August.

McLean said though she doesn’t believe Bryngelson’s stated beliefs are common within BPD, she feels it is important to know more about how his beliefs could have impacted his work, and the work of others, within the department.

“I don’t believe that those ideals are pervasive in our department,” McLean said. “The community must know and we must know what happens in the department. We owe it to our officers and the community to look at this. Our officers serve the community tirelessly, and we are all eager to learn whether Matt Bryngelson’s ideology led to any discriminatory impact on our community members or police department.”

Now retired Boise Police Captain Matt Bryngelson. Courtesy of Boise Police Department

She said the investigation would look to see if Bryngelson’s stated beliefs impacted his policing activities, his on-duty actions or if he used any city resources.

“There is no room in the Boise Police Dept. for those who have white supremacist views to impact policing,” interim police chief Ron Winegar said. “We will come out of this stronger, and we welcome an expedient resolution to this matter.”

Bromwich, of DC law firm Steptoe and Johnson, is a former criminal defense attorney who also served as a federal prosecutor, inspector general, and an independent monitor.

No impact on former chief Lee decision

McLean said the process to hire a new police chief to replace Ryan Lee will wait until the investigation ends.

“The process to hire a new chief will wait until the end of the investigation,” she said. “We are taking things day by day. (We are) making decisions the best we can with the information we have. We know we need to investigate and it’s my expectation — this will help guide us in hiring.”

Lee was asked by McLean to resign earlier this fall after a KTVB story brought to light a series of nine complaints against the chief. One of the nine people who filed complaints against Lee, and the only on-camera source in the KTVB story, was Bryngelson.

McLean said the new revelation about Bryngelson doesn’t change her stance on Lee. She said she stands by the decision to remove him as chief.

Four members of the Boise City Council appeared at the news conference: Council President Elaine Clegg, Council President Pro Tem Holli Woodings, and council members Jimmy Hallyburton and Patrick Bageant. Council members Luici Willits and Lisa Sánchez were not present.

“We have a lot of good folks in the department,” Woodings, who is the council’s public liaison, said. “They show up day in and day out, and many were as shocked and horrified as we were to learn of Matt Bryngelson’s language, and still they show up every day for our community. They, like us, need to know how deeply this runs in the department and be able to put this to rest.”

Union cooperative, wanted internal investigation

Members of Boise’s political and policing leadership at Boise City Hall Wednesday. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Boise Police Officer Brian Holland, who represented the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Union Local #406, said his membership does not support Bryngelson or his views. Holland said the union would have preferred an internal investigation, but generally supported getting to the bottom of the matter.

“We felt some comments put us all in the same bucket, and we went out against that,” Holland said. “We don’t feel that represents our union members. We are working together in unity. We still have to get up and work. Some things can make that hard to do (including) statements made (and) insinuations.”

McLean said the decision to go outside of the city, instead of an investigation through internal affairs or the Office of Police Oversight, was to understand if the oversight functions needed changes.

“We need to look at oversight,” she said. “Were there things that were missed? We need to look at hiring practices and procedures. We think it would be best for the community to trust the investigation and learn from this to prevent this from happening again. The best way to do this was to do it completely independently from the city (with someone who) has experience doing this.  They can assure us it either had no impact or provide us the steps to take to ensure it doesn’t have an impact in the future.”

McLean would not comment on if the currently ongoing negotiations with the police union over an employment contract are continuing.

The Boise City Council must approve a contract for the investigation, which McLean said she would put before the body next week. McLean said they have not yet settled on a contract amount, but that details would be available by Friday when Idaho State Code requires notice for public hearings to be made.

More to read

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

Top Recent Stories