Boise Police Chief Bill Bones Speaks Out After 'Terror' in Dallas 

Boise Police Chief Bill Bones

Harrison Berry

Boise Police Chief Bill Bones

It had been a bruising week for police departments across the country, as video of the officer-involved shootings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota on July 5 and July 6, respectively, sparked protests around the country. On July 7, five Dallas police officers were killed in a sniper attack at a Black Lives Matter demonstration.

Those events, according to Boise Police Chief Bill Bones, had cast a pall over his department when he came to work the morning of July 8.

"It's become a very small world that we live in, and officers have a shared sense of identity across America," he said. "When you see a tragedy of this scale, it affects every officer wearing a badge in the country."

Describing the killings in Dallas as "terror," Bones said little prevents an individual or small group from carrying out similar violence in Boise, but hoped BPD's continuing community engagement would help reduce the risk or lead officers to such plots before they present a danger. He said officers will wear mourning strips on their badges for the week, and hasn't decided whether BPD will send a representative to Dallas to attend the funerals of the slain officers.

Following a massive protests across the country arising from the officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in summer 2014, Bones and the BPD rolled out its model for community policing in Boise. The strategy includes more officers patrolling on bicycle and on foot, and increasing the visibility of officers in the areas they serve. In June, the department launched its first wave of officer body cameras, which have been described as ushering in a new age of officer and departmental transparency.

"Whether it's taking a break and getting out of the car, greater interaction at community events, seeing the bike officers—highly visible on the Greenbelt and downtown—[playing] facilitating roles when someone wants to create a protest, [we're] focusing on the safety of the community rather than focusing on enforcement," he said.

Police violence, however, remains an issue both in Boise and across the country. Two officer-involved shootings took place in Boise in the month of June alone. Elsewhere in the country, on July 5, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by officers in Baton Rouge, La. The next day, Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minn. Both Sterling and Castile were black, and both incidents were captured on video.

The shootings of Sterling and Castile spurred the Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas the evening of June 7. According to Bones, that protest showed police and demonstrators can work together to provide a safe place for people to exercise free speech—until snipers took aim at officers.

"In Dallas, everything I have read and seen tells me the Dallas police were working directly with the organizers of the Black Lives Matter organization to build a relationship. The entire event was conducted safely for all attendees, and it was this person or individuals that tried to change the tone from something of a dialogue to an act of terror and hate," he said.

BPD, he said, will learn from events in Dallas, but there are no policy or procedural changes that will take place as a result of anti-police violence this week.

"I don't see us making policy changes; however, our officers and trainers are always looking at what happens in other jurisdictions to learn lessons to help prevent something like this happening in Boise," he said.

A Black Lives Matter-affiliated demonstration is set to occur Saturday, July 9 at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, starting at 1 p.m.
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