Breaking News
More () »

Boise Police, Fire outline strategic plans for future

The two departments laid out their strategic plans for staffing, facilities, and organizational development for the future.

BOISE, Idaho — Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in America. So how do public safety departments - like police and fire - keep up with growth?

That's a question that Boise's Police and Fire chiefs aimed to answer in a joint presentation during Boise City Council's strategic planning session Tuesday morning.

The two departments laid out their strategic plans for staffing, facilities, and organizational development for the future. 

"So, all of the asks, or the potential asks that we have of the mayor and council as we move into the future, revolve around a couple of themes," Interim Boise Police Chief Ron Winegar said. "One of those is community policing and protecting our ability to do those types of things that we have done so well in the past."

Boise Police are looking to add 129 officers over the next five years to keep up with the city's growth. 

BPD is also proposing a new Organized Crime Unit, which would investigate and combat human trafficking, gang violence, organized crime and retail theft.

"On the human trafficking side of things, certainly we know that it's occurring. And we know that we need to devote resources to that," Winegar said. "One of the things we are grateful for is in Boise we have always had a tradition of addressing problems when they are small or before they emerge and become greater. This is one of those areas we would love to devote resources to so that we can prevent that from becoming an out-of-control issue in our community."

BPD is also looking to expand resources for behavioral health responses. They currently have two behavioral health response teams, which mental health professionals to respond to calls of people in emotional crisis.

The presentation also put emphasis on student resource officer (SRO) support, increasing resources for the traffic unit, building an additional station in the East, and expanding their downtown station to encourage community engagement. 

Boise Fire will be building Station 13 in Northwest Boise, and rebuilding Station 5 downtown to maintain service levels for the community.

The all-hazards fire department is also looking to add 102 firefighters, and 19 civilian employees over the next decade.

"Looking at what we call targeted four-person staffing, how do we add capacity to engine companies. Right now, there's only three firefighters on a fire engine," Boise Fire Chief Mark Niemeyer said. "In some of our more remote locations where we don't have help right around the corner, we looked at four-person staffing. So that those tasks that we need to complete on an emergency scene can be completed by that engine company."

Boise Fire is also looking at supplemental responses to answering calls.

"We're also looking downtown, in our core where the call volume is rising. Do we do some two-person specialized staffing to respond to some of the less critical responses, so we keep our engines and our ladder trucks in service for the critical calls," Niemeyer said. 

Boise Fire's strategic plan also includes dedicating resources to safety officers, succession planning, and minimizing their fleet's carbon footprint.

Chief Winegar said that across the country, officers have been leaving law enforcement in numbers that haven't been seen in decades. So, both departments want to put employee wellness and resilience at the forefront of their plans. 

"The department certainly needs to recruit, hire and train, and retain quality people in our workforce," Winegar said. "But we have to do that not just so we have a healthy department, but so that we can take care of the members of our community that rely on us in some of the most trying times of their lives."

The departments will be doing community engagement to ask for input on their future plans.

Watch more Local News:

See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out