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City of Boise places OPA Director on administrative leave, director's attorney issues response

"This step is necessary to protect the interests of our police officers and the public," Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said in a statement.

BOISE, Idaho — Boise Mayor Lauren McLean announced Friday that the Director of the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) would be placed on administrative leave, citing a concern of actions taken while in office.

Jesus Jara joined city staff on Aug. 31, 2021, when he was made director of OPA. According to the release from the mayor's office, Jara being placed on leave was due to his "professional judgement."

Boise City Council Members Clegg, Woodings and Hallyburton, who serve as oversight to OPA, joined the mayor in placing Jara on leave.

"We must have confidence in this office and trust the judgement of its director," Mayor McLean and council leadership said in the release. "This step is necessary to protect the interests of our police officers and the public."

Friday evening, Hepworth Law Offices announced it was hired to represent Jara and issued a response. The office cited a breach of contract by the City of Boise, retaliation concerns and "violations of law."

Hepworth, in the statement, called this a "calculated political stunt" and "defamatory."

"Mr. Jara maintains he has acted with utmost diligence and integrity, and at all times has sought to restore public confidence in the City of Boise's institutions," the Hepworth Law Offices release said. "Mr. Jara looks forward to defending his honor and reputation when not bound by city policies regarding confidentiality."

Boise Police Union Public Communications Officer Brian Holland said on the issue, "We reserve comment until the facts come out so we can make a legitimate conclusion."

Jara previously recommended to McLean in a memo from April the former BPD Chief Ryan Lee be placed on leave pending nine officer complaints against him, but the city refrained until Lee resigned in September. McLean told KTVB and other news outlets at the time that Jara was "out of scope" regarding his recommendation to the mayor.

Prior to his confirmation, Jara worked in Benton County, Oregon, as a senior analyst. He also gained experience in human resources and training and development through his previous work for the City of Boise as a human resources compliance specialist and a police oversight investigative analyst.  

KTVB reached out to the city to comment on the specific reason Jara was placed on leave, but was told "personnel issues are private" by the city's Director of Community Engagement, Maria Weeg.

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