Boise State, Boise police agree on law enforcement contract

Boise State University and the Boise Police Department have agreed on a five-year law enforcement contract extension.

The city would receive slightly more than $10.5 million, according to the contract, obtained by Idaho Education News Tuesday afternoon.

The State Board of Education and the Boise City Council still need to approve the deal. If they sign on, the new contract would go into effect on Nov. 1, the day after the current police contract expires.

Working with the university’s public safety department, Boise police will assign six officers to the Boise State campus, along with a lieutenant and support staff. Boise police will assign additional officers for large campus events.

The contract would require the parties to work together.

While the city would have final say over officers assigned to campus, Boise police would agree to consult with the university on hiring decisions. The university would also be able to “provide or recommend supplemental training” for Boise police’s campus officers.

Much of the university’s say would fall to a Campus Safety Advisory Committee, which hasn’t yet been formed. This committee would “act to research campus needs and share that data” with Boise police, Boise State said in its news release. According to the contract, the committee and Boise police are expected to work together to identify “training initiatives for campus security officers and/or BPD officers to bolster campus engagement, collaboration, transparency, and communication.”

Campus law enforcement has been a heated topic on campus — and yet another flashpoint in the Statehouse debate over Boise State’s politics.

In August 2020, Boise State entered the fifth year of its contract with Boise police, at a cost of close to $1.4 million. But in response to concerns raised by student activists, a committee of staff, faculty and students expressed reservations about the extension.

“While we understand that there is much room for improvement, the limited amount of time before the current term of the contract expires (less than two months) makes it nearly impossible for Boise State to plan and prepare for continuing public safety operations without the support of the Boise Police,” the group said in an Aug. 7, 2020, letter to Boise State President Marlene Tromp.

The extension came with conditions: The university asked Boise police to review its use of force policies and training requirements, require additional implicit bias training for campus officers and hold campus town halls and listening sessions.

Misinformation, pushed by Boise State critics, has clouded the contract renewal debate.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation co-authored a December 2020 white paper that said, erroneously, that Boise State had announced it would not renew its Boise police contract, “after consulting with student activists.” One of the Freedom Foundation’s legislative allies, Rexburg Republican Rep. Ron Nate, made a similar claim during a January budget hearing.

After a long and contentious contract process, university and Boise police leaders preached unity Tuesday.

“Boise State was thorough and thoughtful in exploring options for campus safety over the past two years, researching a wide range of university models and practices, as well as engaging in internal analysis and listening sessions to determine the best solution for our community,” Tromp said in a news release. “We are pleased by BPD’s ongoing commitment to continually improve the experience of every person on campus and of their interest in becoming true partners with our campus community.”

“Students, staff and all those who visit Boise State are an important part of Boise’s community,” said Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee in Boise State’s release. “Our shared goal is to maintain a safe and respectful campus community while protecting the human and civil rights of everyone we serve.”

The State Board is scheduled to vote on the contract on Oct. 21; the Boise City Council’s vote is scheduled for Oct. 26.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday