Boise Chief of Police Michael Masterson today invited local reporters to share information with their readers and viewers about the department's vehicles used for high risk threats to public safety.
"The first obligation of a Police Department is to protect those we serve – our citizens. To accomplish that, we need to protect the people who we ask to intentionally place themselves in harm’s way, exposing themselves to life threatening situations to help others to safety." said Chief Masterson.
The department put on display this afternoon several vehicles and tools obtained by federal government programs that assist local law enforcement in responding to high risk incidents and lessening the danger of those incidents to the public or officers. Chief Masterson explained the resources are displayed as they are often used - together, as they were last November when a Boise man was arrested after he was found with bomb making material in his Boise Bench home.
Chief Masterson's comments are below. A list of the items on display, and additional information about the equipment follows the Chief's remarks.
Good afternoon. Welcome to the Boise Police Department. I am Mike Masterson, Boise Police Chief. There is a national discussion occurring as a result of events in Ferguson , MO. As a result of that media coverage, local police agencies are being asked hard questions about the equipment they have; what it is used for and more importantly, what are your rules for using it.
You don’t often see these vehicles. But they're not a secret.
These vehicles are here, we train with them. Their intended use is to protect citizens and officers in high risk situations.
We’re happy to show you this equipment. This provides us here in Boise a good opportunity to let people see the tools this police department has and to say again how we plan to use them.
This is not the first time I have raised these issues as I have spoken and written on this topic several times in the past, in an op-ed piece in the Idaho Statesman last November, and in an article published in the national FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin in 2012 on policing crowds, protest and other first amendment gatherings . You have copies and links to both those.
The first obligation of a Police Department is to protect those we serve – our citizens.
To accomplish that, we need to protect the people who we we ask to intentionally place themselves in harm’s way, exposing themselves to life threatening situations to help others to safety.
As a city and as a department, we rely on many things to do that – we build partnerships; we educate citizens as to our laws and how to keep themselves safe. Our officers seek voluntary compliance with our laws. Officers assist citizens as problem solvers dozens of times each day, most often well out of sight of any TV camera or reporter notebook.
We are the police department for Idaho’s largest city – the Capital City. Officers with this department have a long and I would say respected history of working with citizens and groups from all aspects of our community, including those who wish to protest or demonstrate over an issue they feel strongly about.
Our officers routinely interact with these groups, large and small, balancing individual civil rights with the need to maintain the personal safety of all citizens.
But there are those whose goal is to threaten or indeed harm our community.
We have seen - here in Boise – situations that pose a grave danger to the public.
Last November, the ERV - the repurposed MRAP - was used as a blast barrier to protect neighboring homes after officers found evidence a man was building bombs in his basement. 150 pounds of bomb making material was found in the man’s home.
The ERV replaces a makeshift cargo van draped with tactical blankets that has been used in the past to protect officers and citizens. That cargo van would not stop a high caliber bullet let alone a bomb. The ERV will do that and already has protected people’s lives here in Boise.
This October, a man goes on trial here in Boise, charged with the terrorism… of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and possession of an explosive device. Federal investigators say the man helped teach people to build bombs that were to be used to target public transportation.That arrest occurred inMay of last year in a neighborhood very close to Borah high school.
We have seen too often the terror a lone gunman can cause. Living here in Boise we are not immune to the types of tragic events which have across our nation. If I were to attribute the absence of those events here I would say we’ve been both good and lucky. Good police work, great community partnerships with a willingness of our citizens to report suspicious activity.
The reality is these threats exist - we as a community must recognize that and be prepared to defend and protect ourselves when these high risk and dangerous situation occur.
We often rely on partnerships to help our community stay safe.
The alumni from our Citizens Police Academy have raised funds to help buy vests and helmets and many other items to protect our officers.
The city recently approved a private donation to purchase a new communications system for our Crisis Negotiators to use in hostage or barricaded subject situations.
All the vehicles you see behind me are other tools to help officers protect the public in high risk situations.
All these vehicles have been acquired by this department thanks to federal programs that help equip local police departments. The ERV was free, the other vehicles range in price from 100,000 to $250,000 and were acquired with federal monies passed down to states who then pass it down to Ada County Emergency Management. First responders, police and fire, separately then build a list of needed equipment and agree to share the resources in the event another agency needs it.
You have a list of these items prepared by the department and where they came from. In the ten years I have been chief we have acquired one item. Other items we have received from the program are very old and are in storage.
I invite you examine these vehicles closely and ask questions about what they are used for and under what circumstances. Thank you for covering this event.
Click here for a list of items received by the Boise Police Department through the Department of Defense 10-33 program since 1994 and items obtained with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security/Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security grant program.
More about the ERV (repurposed MRAP)
Boise, August 26, 2014 - The vehicle was obtained by the Boise Police Department in early October, 2013 through a Department of Defense program to reutilize and repurpose surplus military vehicles.
Boise Police have repurposed the vehicle as an Emergency Rescue Vehicle, or ERV.
Boise Police have equipped the ERV with a mass casualty trauma kit. This fall, the department will purchase two medical evacuation litters for the ERV. Litters are stretchers designed to prevent further injury where obstacles or movement of the patient is required, commonly used in search and rescue operations.
The ERV is equipped with life support and weapons of mass destruction detection systems. Boise Police have trained using the vehicle in hostage rescue, explosive and WMD scenarios.
The vehicle will be deployed to protect the public and officers in very high risk, dangerous situations. Incidents involving potential explosive devices, weapons of mass destruction, heavily armed subjects, even a volatile hazardous material situation may be appropriate for ERV to assist.
ERV has been used twice by officers responding to high risk calls.
- Nov. 7, 2013 – The vehicle was used to serve what’s called a “high risk” arrest warrant on a man suspected of building bombs in the basement of his home. The large vehicle was used as a blast barrier protecting neighboring homes should an explosion occur. 150 pounds of explosive material was found in the suspect’s home.
- August 18, 2014, 10:38 p.m. – The vehicle was used as protective cover for officers responding to a citizen’s report that a man unknown to the victim had twice pointed a gun at the victim as he walked by a residence. The suspect barricaded himself inside and was reported to have long guns in the residence. The residence is located on a large piece of property with no protective cover for responding officers. Because of the potential for danger, coupled with wide-open approach to the residence with no available cover, the Boise SWAT team was called to respond. The ERV provided officers with a safe barrier while keeping the suspect from fleeing the residence. Despite the high risk operation, officers eventually took the suspect into custody peacefully. He was arrested on misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace.
Much of the above information was first posted on boisepolice.org 10/2/13 and 11/7/13..