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City of Boise will pay half a million for police captain investigation

City records show Bryngelson previously filed a claim against the city alleging discrimination and retaliation.

BOISE, Idaho — Boise will pay $500,000 for an investigation into a former police captain to discover if racism affected any practices within the Boise Police Department and the city.

According to a contract in the Boise City Council agenda, the firm Boise Mayor Lauren McLean chose to investigate the department -- Steptoe & Johnson, with lead attorney Michael R. Bromwich -- is requesting $825 an hour. Other lawyers that are apart of the investigation are also included in the $500,000 total.

The scope of work and contract was approved by council on Dec. 6.

Bromwich's normal hourly fee is $1,710, according to the contract statement. He was formerly the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Credit: City of Boise

According to the agreement, the firm should be finished with its investigation no later than Dec. 31, 2023. The investigation will conclude with a final report that will be presented to the city council in a public meeting, the agreement said. 

The firm will be looking into whether the previous racist comments of former BPD captain Matt Bryngelson affected the department's policing, hiring practices, internal investigations, citizen encounters, miscellaneous charges, training and community engagement.

Bryngelson's comments were made public after Twitter users discovered videos and articles including racist statements from him under a fake name, "Daniel Vinyard."

Bryngelson retired from BPD in the fall of 2022.

The former captain was slated to speak at a white nationalist conference mid-November. 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 under the pseudonym. 

According to BPD Union members and Interim Chief Ron Winegar, no one was aware of any comments from Bryngelson over his time in the force that would have alarmed them.

"The union represents rank and file officers and sergeants, not command staff, so Bryngelson was not a member," said Brian Holland, BPD Union's spokesperson. "I'm a person of color. I'm a Black man and I never saw any of that whatsoever."

Mayor McLean said at a news conference Nov. 30 that she his hoping for a quick and thorough investigation.

"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.

Bryngelson was one of the Boise Police Department staff members who filed complaints against the former BPD Chief Ryan Lee for a hostile work environment. McLean later asked Lee to resign. 

McLean said in the news conference that her decision to ask Lee to step down "still stands."

Public records obtained by KTVB show Bryngelson also filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Idaho Human Rights Commission to show probable cause in order to sue.

Bryngelson and his lawyers filed the complaint on Nov. 8, alleging that Lee caused him enough mental health problems through certain behavior and hostility, that he needed to be admitted to an in-patient facility in Utah. The claim says that Lee also forced Bryngelson to retire ealry and lose out on wages and benefits.

"Chief Lee and Deputy Chief Brooks created an objectively intolerable working environment," the claim said.

In comparison with the investigation into Bryngelson, the City hired outside counsel to clear a Boise Police Department Internal Affairs investigation backlog in February of 2022 -- and paid that firm $25,000.

According to a city spokesperson, this counsel was also used this past summer to review the intake of staff complaints against Lee submitted to the Office of Police Accountability (OPA).

The contract, dated Feb. 23, names Ryan P. Henson, with law firm Bevis, Thiry, Henson & Katz, PA, as the attorney investigator. KTVB has reached out to Henson multiple times, but he has not returned our request for comment.

The contract states, "Attorney lnvestigator will primarily conduct investigations into officer-involved shootings or significant use of force by the Boise Police Department. The Attorney investigator may also conduct investigations into other matters for the CITY as requested."

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