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Retired BPD captain, former Boise City Council member Vern Bisterfeldt passes away at 83

Bisterfeldt was 83 years-old and served the Boise community since 1959 in roles with BPD, the Ada County Commission and the Boise City Council.

BOISE, Idaho — Retired Boise Police Department (BPD) captain and former Boise City Council member Vern Bisterfeldt passed away Friday. He was 83 years-old and served the Boise community since 1959.

The news was announced in a statement by BPD Chief of Police Ryan Lee and the entire Boise Police Department on Facebook Saturday

Bisterfeldt started his career as a patrol officer with BPD in 1959 and was promoted to a sergeant in 1967. He served in both the Patrol and Criminal Investigation Divisions until he was promoted to captain in 1979. 

According to BPD, Bisterfeldt served as captain and led the Patrol Division until his retirement in 1987. 

"During his 27 years of service with the department, Vern was well known and loved by those whom he worked with, as well as those in our community, for his big personality, straightforwardness, and heart for service," BPD's announcement said. 

Prior to his retirement, the Boise great was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1985 by the Boise Police Department. 

Following his retirement from the department in January of 1987, Bisterfeldt continued his service to the Gem State as an elected Ada County Commissioner. 

In November of 2001, Bisterfeldt was elected as a member of the Boise City Council. For nearly a decade, Bisterfeldt displayed his expertise in public service as a council member in Idaho's capital city until he stepped down in January of 2011 to rejoin the Ada County Commission. 

On Saturday, the Boise City Council released a statement on Bisterfeldt's death, honoring him as "dedicated to the residents of the city, to his Council colleagues and to the city employees whom he worked with."

Credit: Boise City Council

"Behind his sometimes-gruff demeanor was a man with a soft and caring heart who was always willing to share a joke, a word of wisdom or support and who would do anything in his power to help those who needed it," the Boise City Council statement said. "His quips from the dais during Council meetings brought levity to long and often difficult meeting, while at the same time expressing his thoughts on the matter at hand. While you might not have agreed with Vern on an issue, he listened and made sure that the public knew why he was making the decision that he was. Vern spent many an afternoon in the offices at City Hall returning calls to constituents who had reached out to him. His belief was that if they took the time to reach out, then they deserved to hear from him personally in return."

According to BPD, information in regards to Bisterfeldt's funeral services will be released over the next week. In lieu of flowers, his family respectfully requests contributions in Bisterfeldt's memory be sent to the Boise Police Association or Idaho Retired Law Enforcement Association.

The Boise Police Honor Guard will be providing escorts as needed and will be guarding Bisterfeldt until interment, BPD said

“Vern was an extraordinary character because he had extraordinary character” Boise City Council President Elaine Clegg said. “He was one of a kind and he will be greatly missed by those of us who were lucky enough to call him a friend and to serve on the Council and at the city with him."

Both BPD and the Boise City Council wished their condolences to Bisterfeldt's family, including his wife Shirley, and sent the family thoughts of love and prayers in their respective announcements. 

Update: Boise Mayor Lauren McLean also released a statement on Bisterfeldt's passing Saturday evening. McLean's statement is included in its entirety below:

“The community of Boise has lost an incredible public servant and human being with the passing of Vern Bisterfeldt. I met Vern back in 2001, when he supported the Boise Foothills Open Space Campaign which I was leading. That support meant a lot then and it still does. Ten years later, I had the distinct honor of filling his seat on City Council when he stepped down to rejoin the Ada County Commission. Vern believed in service. After his time in the military, he gave more than 50 years to the people of this community, including a decade on City Council and 27 years protecting Boiseans as a BPD officer," McLean said.

"Vern believed in people. Whether it was his colleagues in government, his fellow officers, or the residents of this city, he made time for you. You never had to wonder what Vern thought about an issue, because he would let you know. But he was always willing to listen as well. Vern believed in this community and judging by the incredible amount of respect given to him by Boiseans, this community believed in him. I join with so many others in sending condolences to Shirley and his family.”

Former City Council President Maryanne Jordan also released a statement about Bisterdeldt's passing.

"Sometimes in this life, if you are very lucky, you find yourself intersecting with a group of people who make you work, make you think, make you laugh and make you better. And then, if you are even luckier, one of those people is Vern Bisterfeldt," she wrote. "A person who would lift everyone up, do anything to help anyone, make tough decisions and always do what was right for his community. He lived here for years, but welcomed all comers. He never knew a stranger. He remembered everything, and could tell the best stories. We are all so much better for having known him. He was, quite simply, one of a kind. Our hearts are broken today. RIP my friend."

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