Boise Police Department
News Release

Michael F. Masterson
Chief of Police


Contact: Lynn Hightower
Communications Director
570-6180

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, March 10, 2011

House Bill 222; BPD legislative testimony

03-10-11 House Bill 222; BPD legislative testimony

    March 10, 2011 - The Idaho House State Affairs Committee voted this morning to introduce HB 222, which would allow people with a concealed weapons permit to carry firearms on college and university campuses in the state. The bill would allow public colleges and universities to regulate firearms only in undergraduate dormitories. The committee voted 11-8 to pass the bill to the full House.

    As the Campus Police for Boise State University, Chief of Police Michael Masterson and Lt. Tony Plott of the BPD BSU unit testified against the bill.

    Idahoans with opinions on this proposed legislation are encouraged to contact their state lawmakers. Click here to learn how to contact your state lawmaker.

    Testimony of Lt. Tony Plott, given to the House State Affairs Committee Wednesday, March 9, 2011:

Good morning, Thank you for the opportunity to provide input into senate or house bill number 222.

My name is Tony Plott.  I am a life long Idahoan and second generation law enforcement officer having worked for the City of Boise for nearly 25 years where I hold the rank of Lieutenant.   My father was an ISP trooper and retired as the director of the Idaho POST academy.

I am an outdoorsman and gun owner and life time member of the National Rifle Association.

I attended college at Boise State and played football in the early 80's.  

I am the father of three college age daughters.

As you can see, I represent many interests concerning this issue, but am here today to speak on behalf of the Boise Police Department.
Our mission is to serve, protect and lead this community to a safer tomorrow.

The Boise Police Department - as you may know - serves many communities, including  Boise neighborhoods, the Boise Airport, and the campus of Boise State University.

I was assigned to Boise State University as the Police program manager one year ago and work closely with Boise State Security Director Jon Uda, a retired FBI agent.

The Boise Police Department has a very positive and productive working relationship with the Boise State campus community. The campus enjoys an atmosphere that fosters learning, exploration and the expression of new ideas. The campus also enjoys an extremely low crime rate, especially in the area of violent crime.

The Boise Police Department does not support the carrying of concealed firearms on the campus. Our stand on this issue is the same as the vast majority of other university police departments… particularly those in the eleven states now considering similar legislation… that concealed firearms aren't necessary on a college campus and this legislation is a sweeping reaction to a problem that fortunately is still extremely rare in our society. The FACTS continue to show that our college campuses are significantly safer places than where we work, shop or even live.

Policing a college campus is a specialty assignment. We deal almost exclusively with young adults… many of whom are living away from home for the first time.

We know our young people - the age group between 17 and 24 are just learning the responsibilities of adulthood and of society's expectations of adult behavior.

This will not be news to the parents in the room but as our young people learn, conduct that most adults feel is risky, young adults feel is fun. Our young adults take risks and often learn hard life lessons in everything from finances to alcohol and sometimes drugs.

We know we as a society have issues with young people and alcohol abuse. College age young people are involved in more alcohol and drug related incidents, including accidents, assaults, sexual assaults and motor vehicle crashes.

And alcohol is a factor in two of the largest causes of death in young adults… homicide and suicide.

As a campus police agency, we feel strongly adding weapons to this mix will mean our college students are LESS safe.

Adding weapons to a college campus have the potential to increase the consequences of a young person's actions, jeopardizing their safety and their future.

As a professional police department that polices the campus and the surrounding community, the Boise Police Department has armed officers assigned and dedicated to the campus with the tools and training to intervene in the event of a deadly force assault on or near campus.

We know from experience that a citizen with some training and a firearm may do more harm than good in the event of a true emergency, by causing confusion and slowing down the police response.

It takes a lot of diligence for a person carrying a concealed firearm to avoid accidental or negligent exposure of the weapon… to avoid negligent handling that might result in theft, an accidental discharge or discovery of the weapon by an innocent bystander… or to avoid carrying the weapon into a place where drugs or alcohol are being used.

THIS IS IMPORTANT……

…Because college campuses deal largely with young people 17 to 25 with varying degrees of life experience and maturity

… because many students live in rental or transitional housing that lack secure facilities designed to store, handle, or load and unload firearms

… Because these young people are often under new and unique stresses including relationships, grades and finances

…because a college campus often encourages dialogue on controversial issues that are racial, environmental and political that evoke not only thought but emotion

… and because college campuses are commonly visited by children and families as part of camps, field trips or community events…

Again, we do not believe a college campus is the appropriate community for citizens to carry concealed firearms.

We strongly recommend the University be allowed to restrict weapons on campus in the interest of public safety.

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    Testimony of Boise Chief of Police Michael Masterson, presentedto the House State Affairs Committee Thursday, March 10, 2011:

Mr. Chairman and Committee members,

I don't wish to repeat testimony already provided by Lt. Plott at yesterday's hearing. You are well aware of the Boise Police Department's position opposing House Bill 222.

I am here to clarify misrepresentations or perceptions offered yesterday regarding crime statistics representing the City of Boise and Boise State University.

A wise  sage once said, "Statistics are numbers looking for an argument." I'd like to put those crime numbers into perspective by facts:

The crime mapping feature you saw yesterday is a service all Ada County law enforcement agencies provide that we believe necessary to share with the people we serve. It does not mean crime is rampant in our city. In fact, the city of Boise - including our University - is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in our nation.  The symbols you saw posted represented assault battery/sexual assault and burglary/robbery. Here are a few more details you should know about those numbers:

Aggravated assault/battery - 90% occurred in a home, business, bar or restaurant and 97.6% the victim knew the assailant.

Robbery totals - out of 9 this year - 7 the victim knew the suspect.

In the area of sex assault, the numbers are comparable. There is a strong victim/suspect relationship and these cases generally occurring in a house or apartment.

The Campus safety study and the grading system you heard and saw is misleading at best. I ask you to compare  apples to apples and consider just campus boundaries. We urge you to look at campus specific stats alone and not the fifteen block vicinity shown yesterday to illustrate a campus problem that doesn't exist.  Some colleges and universities are situated in urban areas and some are in rural areas making the variables considerable different.  Here's the breakdown on five of the major part one crimes reported to police in the past three years.

                            2008 2009 2010
Murder                     0      0      0
Rape                        0     1     0
Robbery                    0      0      0
Aggravated Assault     2      1     0
Burglary                    3     2      0

Official statistics provided by Mary Anderson, BPD Crime Analysis Supervisor

The other area I'd like to comment on is police response to active shooters whether they occur at a school, university, capitol, a bar or whatever. I don't want to disclose specific  police tactics in handling the  critical  events, but do want to reassure you and our citizens that it is a standard practice today in the policing profession around  the county to take immediate decisive action to end the threat of an active shooter. There are no huddles, no votes, no waiting. (This comment being made in response to comment the U of  I counselor made yesterday in testimony)

We believe the current law is reasonable and the proposed change  offers a solution to problem that doesn't exist.  

Thank you.

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