UPDATE: The Boise City Council will vote May 8th on
proposed changes to city code to:
- Allow bridge jumping at least 50 feet from floaters on the
- Allow for boogie boarding on designated stretches of the
- Prohibit blocking bridges and pathways.
- Violations would be an infraction (reduced from the current
misdemeanor penalty) with a $56.60 fine. An infraction would allow
more consistent enforcement and allow young offenders to avoid
a criminal record that would result from a misdemeanor conviction.
The following are comments from Boise Chief of Police Michael
masterson submitted to Boise Mayor David Bieter and the City
Council regarding the REVISED Boise River
Thank you Mayor and Council for the opportunity to
present recommendations to revise the City's bridge jumping
ordinance to provide improved safety on and along the river and to
create a more effective and appropriate enforcement
strategy. The proposed changes are in response to
increased number of floater complaints we receive annually and a
handful of injuries caused by bridge jumpers during the float
season . We believe these changes will strike the
appropriate balance between safety and enjoyment for all
users. Bridge jumping has been prohibited by Boise City
ordinance since at least 1990.
The proposed revision, over two decades later, would
continue to make it illegal but with a condition of jumping
within 50 feet of anyone floating in the river. Violations would be
infractions rather than misdemeanors -- an important change that
would allow youth offenders to avoid a criminal record while also
allowing police to immediately cite offenders with tickets
rather than arrests. [Just a little background, the Idaho
Juvenile Corrections Act, I.C. sec. 20-505, gives the juvenile
courts exclusive jurisdiction over juvenile offenders except in a
few limited areas, including minor traffic (including watercraft)
violations and tobacco and alcohol offenses. By defining the
offenses - bridge jumping within 50 feet of a rafter or tuber,
river boarding where prohibited, and bridge blocking - as traffic
offenses on the greenbelt, the City will be able to charge the
juvenile by uniform citation and have a court trial in front of a
magistrate. This is expected to be much more efficient rather
than having to petition the juvenile into juvenile court to be
prosecuted by the Ada County Prosecutor's Juvenile Division.] The
one exception however, would continue to be any jumper who causes
injury to another person by striking that person, whether
intentional or not, could be charged with a more serious violation,
such as battery.
Additionally, those blocking bridges or other areas of the
Greenbelt would be subject to citation. The new ordinance also
would take a new approach to bungee surfing and boogie
boarding. Currently these activities are banned from Barber
Park to Ann Morrison Park. The new rules would also give the
parks department authority to designate certain stretches of the
river as bungee-surfing- or boogie-board-friendly.
We believe these changes support the Mayor's directive and
goal to encourage people to enjoy the Boise River, one
of our community's greatest assets, while respecting everyone
else's right to enjoy it as well.
If you approve of the revised ordinance, police
will emphasize education over enforcement during the early float
season to help everyone become acquainted with the new rules
through the following:
Media release timed to go out just before rafting season
begins (single release from Parks, Police, and Ada County,
who runs the Barber Park concession)-the release would emphasize
the 50 foot rule and congestion violations, and any other issues we
think are appropriate.
A warning/education period of around two weeks will be in
effect prior to ticketing. Egregious acts jeopardizing the safety
of others will be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine if
a citation is warranted.
Police officers will spend significant time at the most
popular spots educating potential jumpers on the inherent dangers
invovled as well as the revised ordinance and consequences for
violators.While the act of bridge jumping would be decriminalized
when other floaters are not nearby, it is still a potentially
unsafe act and is not recommended. Anyone who jumps into the river
does so at his or her own risk.
We will create a comprehensive sign age strategy in
consultation with city legal so notice is placed for risk as
well as illegal to jump within 50' of a floater.
We will evaluate (after 30
days) our change management processes on the river use
ordinances to determine effectiveness and
develop new strategies if necessary to gain further
compliance throughout the summer.