Letters to the editor image -- Idaho Press

Letters to the editor image — Idaho Press

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Protests have continued apace in Boise every week for two months now, which have finally culminated in a tangible ask: the protesters would like Boise Mayor McLean to de-fund the Boise Police Department. But why? In the last ten years, the BPD has been involved in eight lethal shootings. Of those eight who were shot, six were White, two were Hispanic, seven were armed (the eighth was brandishing a replica firearm, so not technically armed), and all eight were threatening innocent people and officers. This represents one of the lowest rates of lethal officer-involved shootings (not just per capita per year, but absolutely) in any city in the United States. There were so few lethal shootings that if even a single Black suspect was lethally shot, that would represent a "disproportionate targeting of people of color by police" (to borrow the language of the protestors) by a factor of ten. This hardly constitutes a reason to de-fund the BPD, and I'd argue this doesn't even represent a reason for local reform. If George Floyd or Breonna Taylor were murdered by BPD officers, I'd be in front of the capital building demanding change as well, but they weren't. They were murdered by officers in separate police departments several states over and more than a thousand miles away, and that is an injustice you will not fix by de-funding our excellent police departments here. Here's a tangible counter-ask: require that officers working in a non-administrative capacity train jiu-jitsu to the blue-belt level at minimum and increase funding to pay for it. Empowering officers to employ effective, non-lethal tools to subdue suspects reduces usage of lethal force and makes it easier to prosecute officers who willfully abdicate their duties and training. You will not achieve those goals by taking those tools away.

Sam Apker, Meridian

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