Boise State University, Boise police agree on law enforcement contract

By: - October 12, 2021 3:33 pm

Boise State University on March 20, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Originally posted on on October 12, 2021

Boise State University and the Boise Police Department have agreed on a five-year law enforcement contract extension.

If the State Board of Education and the Boise City Council approve the deal, the new contract would go into effect on Nov. 1, the day after the current police contract expires.

Working with the university’s public safety department, Boise police will assign six officers to the Boise State campus, along with a lieutenant and support staff. Boise police will assign additional officers for large campus events.

Under the contract, a Campus Safety Advisory Committee of administrators, faculty and student representatives “will act to research campus needs and share that data” with Boise police, Boise State said in its news release.

Boise State did not respond to requests for a copy of the contract. Idaho Education News filed a public records request for the contract Tuesday.

Campus law enforcement has been a heated topic on campus — and yet another flashpoint in the Statehouse debate over Boise State’s politics.

In August 2020, Boise State entered the fifth year of its contract with Boise police, at a cost of close to $1.4 million. But in response to concerns raised by student activists, a committee of staff, faculty and students expressed reservations about the extension.

“While we understand that there is much room for improvement, the limited amount of time before the current term of the contract expires (less than two months) makes it nearly impossible for Boise State to plan and prepare for continuing public safety operations without the support of the Boise Police,” the group said in an Aug. 7, 2020, letter to Boise State President Marlene Tromp.

The extension came with conditions: The university asked Boise police to review its use of force policies and training requirements, require additional implicit bias training for campus officers and hold campus town halls and listening sessions.

Misinformation, pushed by Boise State critics, has clouded the contract renewal debate.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation co-authored a December 2020 white paper that said, erroneously, that Boise State had announced it would not renew its Boise police contract, “after consulting with student activists.” One of the Freedom Foundation’s legislative allies, Rexburg Republican Rep. Ron Nate, made a similar claim during a January budget hearing.

After a long and contentious contract process, university and Boise police leaders preached unity Tuesday.

“Boise State was thorough and thoughtful in exploring options for campus safety over the past two years, researching a wide range of university models and practices, as well as engaging in internal analysis and listening sessions to determine the best solution for our community,” Tromp said in a news release. “We are pleased by BPD’s ongoing commitment to continually improve the experience of every person on campus and of their interest in becoming true partners with our campus community.”

“Students, staff and all those who visit Boise State are an important part of Boise’s community,” said Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee in Boise State’s release. “Our shared goal is to maintain a safe and respectful campus community while protecting the human and civil rights of everyone we serve.”

The State Board is scheduled to vote on the contract on Oct. 21; the Boise City Council’s vote is scheduled for Oct. 26.

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Kevin Richert
Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert writes for Idaho Education News, a nonprofit online news outlet supported by grants from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, the Education Writers Association and the Solutions Journalism Network.