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City of Boise hires outside firm to investigate former captain's comments, begins next week

The international firm, Steptoe & Johnson, will be investigating to see if a former captain used city resources to advance a white supremacist agenda.

BOISE, Idaho — An investigation spearheaded by the City of Boise into a former Boise Police Department (BPD) captain's white supremacist-like rhetoric will begin next week, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The investigation will start after city council approves the contract with a private national firm, Steptoe & Johnson, based out of Washington D.C. It is a firm known for government investigations, McLean said, most recently leading an investigation into the Baltimore Police Department. Former Department of Justice Inspector General Michael R. Bromwich will take the lead.

McLean said  the firm will be investigation whether the former captain, Matt Bryngelson, used city resources to advance certain racist ideologies and if those impacted the department or the community in any way.

"It is one thing to hold a set of beliefs. It is an altogether different thing to allow these beliefs to impact behaviors, to impact your fellow officers, to impact the community," McLean said at the news conference.

Bryngelson was slated to speak at a white nationalist conference mid-November. He previously used a fake name to speak at these conferences while he was employed with BPD. He can be seen in a YouTube video with American Renaissance and New Century Foundation founder, Jared Taylor. Bryngelson can be heard saying that his fellow Black officers perform poorly, and that he was often "complained on" by Black or Hispanic people.

Without explicitly naming the city of Boise, Bryngelson said he chose to live in his town because it was predominantly white, as did other officers on the force who chose to move to an area where their children won't be "subjected to 'diversity' in the schools and violence in their neighborhoods".

"I was convinced then and still am that Blacks work so little in order to avoid exposing their incompetence," he wrote in a 2020 article using the fake name, Daniel Vinyard. Daniel Vinyard was a character in the movie American History X, who was influenced by his older brother's neo-Nazi views and his white supremacist gang. 

McLean is hoping for a quick and thorough investigation, she said, and that a report will be presented to the city council in a public setting and will be available for public view.

Interim Chief Ron Winegar said the department is cooperating and will support the investigation by fully providing access to any documents or data that is needed.

"These have not been easy days," Winegar said. He later specified that he  -- working in the police department for many years, like Bryngelson -- had not heard any comments from Bryngelson that alarmed him over his time in the force.

"I've never heard a comment or witnessed inaction personally that would lead me to believe that he held those views," Winegar said.

Meanwhile, the City of Boise is currently looking for a new chief of police after Ryan Lee was asked to resign by McLean in September. McLean asked Lee to resign in the midst of complaints against him made public.

Bryngelson was one of the officers that complained against Lee, stating that his alleged actions caused him to have mental breakdowns.

However, McLean said that Bryngelson's actions don't affect the decision to ask Lee to resign. "A decision was made related to management. That decision stands. We are looking at how we move forward," McLean said.

It is unclear just yet how much taxpayer money will be used for the investigation.

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