This memo is part of a long string of meetings and memos between Jara and Washburn over several months in 2022. These records show multiple instances of Jara being informed the city believed he was acting outside of his legal authority and that he continued to take in complaints from Boise Police Department officers after being told to stop.
Jara’s termination in December by a 5-1 vote of the Boise City Council is part of a complex web of events circling the resignation of former Police Chief Ryan Lee after a series of complaints against him became public and he narrowly missed a criminal charge for assaulting a sergeant in a briefing room.
This spiraled into a lawsuit against the City from the BPD Internal Affairs Director and an ongoing investigation into racism in the department after a twenty-year department veteran was revealed to be involved with a white supremacist website. The now-retired Police Captain Matt Bryngelson was one of the officers who filed complaints against Lee, who is Chinese American.
‘No further action will be taken’
The series of events kicked off with Jara receiving the series of nine complaints from eight individuals about Lee in early 2022, many of whom were in command staff level positions, according to his lawsuit against the city.
It’s unknown exactly what the complaints entailed because they are personnel information and are exempt from release under the Idaho Public Records Act, but Jara’s lawsuit said they ranged from “general concerns regarding hostile work environment and retaliation, to concerns regarding waste of public funds and manpower, to serious concerns of interference in ongoing (internal affairs) investigations arising from concerns of the use of force by active officers and allegations of otherwise criminal behavior and violations of the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics.”
According to previous reporting from BoiseDev, the City of Boise says four of the nine complaints were investigated by outside police agencies, Boise’s own Internal Affairs, or are still open. The city contends other complaints lacked sufficient details or were “disagreements with management.” The city also said there were eight individuals who complained, with one person submitting two complaints.
Jara then proceeded to interview all of the officers and compile their concerns into a binder, which he delivered to Mayor Lauren McLean’s office. Washburn acknowledged receipt of the binder on April 8 and thanked Jara for his work, but told him the city would take the investigation into Lee from there. The binder also included a memo from Jara suggesting Lee be placed on leave while the matter is investigated, something the city says is “not contemplated” in the ordinance governing OPA.
“I have had an opportunity to review the information and will take any next steps that might be necessary in the matter,” Washburn wrote. “To that end, I will be in further contact should I need any clarification of the findings or recommendations.”
On April 19, Washburn, Lee, and Jara scheduled a meeting for the week of April 25, according to records obtained by BoiseDev. The content of the meeting is unknown and the subject line on the calendar request was “connect.”
In his complaint, Jesus says Washburn informed him on May 6 the complaints in the binder had been referred to an outside review and there was no policy violation from Lee. Jara alleged in his lawsuit he was never told who conducted the review and cast doubt on if it happened at all.
In response to questions about this, City of Boise spokesperson Maria Weeg said the city used firm Bevis, Thiry, Henson & Katz, P.A to review the case against Lee. The Idaho Statesman obtained city documents showing a $3,040 payment to the firm in August for work completed in April to review information related to Lee. The invoices the Statesman reviewed showed one of the firm’s attorneys spent 15 hours reviewing the complaints.
Records obtained by BoiseDev show another meeting scheduled on May 19 with McLean, Washburn, Jara and then City Council President Elaine Clegg.
Jara warned not to accept complaints from BPD employees
Jara again met in mid-June for a “police debrief” with Washburn, Clegg, City Council President Pro Tem Holli Woodings, BPD Deputy Chief Tammany Brooks, and City Attorney Jayme Sullivan. Days later, he received a memo on June 21 aiming to clear up “some confusion” about the authority given to the Office of Police Accountability in its ordinance.
The memo said the ordinance governing the OPA doesn’t cover internal personnel matters, like those of the BPD officers lodging complaints against Lee, and should instead focus on taking complaints from the public about misconduct from police officers while on the job. It said city employees and BPD officers have “numerous options” for employees to file complaints or express grievances about working conditions, colleagues or supervisors. It said the city’s Equal Opportunity Employment provisions and the city’s whistleblower program “ensure that all city employees have protected processes by which they can file complaints.” There is also a grievance procedure through the Boise Police Union for rank-and-file members.
“OPA should not conduct an intake interview with a city employee about workplace conditions or personnel matters,” the memo concluded.
In his lawsuit, Jara said the memo “unreasonably restricted OPA’s ability to perform legal duties” and violated city code.
Jara secures outside council a year after office formed
McLean, Washburn, Clegg and Jara all met again in mid-July to discuss the Office of Police Accountability. The agenda for the meeting included that he had secured an outside, independent lawyer to advise him named Bryan Knox who is based in Nampa.
This comes after the original budget for the Office of Police Accountability, which was formed in mid-2021, included funds for an independent attorney. But, Weeg told BoiseDev Jara never hired a lawyer until roughly a year after he was hired by the office and during that time was making all of his decisions without the consultation of legal counsel.
Weeg said Jayme Sullivan, the city attorney, had a verbal conversation when he first started the position about hiring an attorney in the summer of 2021. When she found out he had not yet hired one, she sent him an email on January 27, 2022, giving him a list of recommended attorneys. Sullivan emailed him again on May 26 telling him she had spoken to Knox about advising the OPA and that because of his decades of experience as a prosecutor and lack of connections to Ada County and the City of Boise he would be a great choice. Weeg provided BoiseDev with both emails upon request.
BoiseDev asked Jara’s attorney about the city’s allegations Jara did not hire an outside lawyer when he was asked to, but Hepworth declined to answer.
KTVB report publishes, Jara meets with city council
On September 22, KTVB published an article about the complaints against Lee. This story included the previously private memo Jara wrote along with the binder of complaints that recommended Lee be placed on administrative leave while he was under investigation.
Part of the city’s list of reasons for losing confidence in Jara published in the November 1 memo included his disclosure of confidential personnel information. Weeg told BoiseDev this happened when Jara released the memo where he recommended Lee be placed on leave back to the officers who made the complaints to him, which then made its way to the media.
“The city has an obligation to protect the private personnel information of all current and former employees – full stop,” Weeg wrote. “It’s spelled out in the Idaho Public Records Act, and it’s why we’re so careful about reviewing records before they are released. In sharing his recommendation memo with the officers, Jara released confidential personnel information, which is a clear violation of state law. That information then made its way to the press.”
BoiseDev asked Jara about the allegations he released confidential information, but his attorney also declined to answer this inquiry.
Seven days after the publication of KTVB’s story and two days following the resignation of Lee at McLean’s request, Washburn asked Jara to have his attorney redact identifying personnel information from his binder of complaints he collected from officers so it could be shared with members of the Boise City Council. Washburn also requested copies of the emails he sent to officers who made the complaints about his memo suggesting Lee be put on leave.
Jara was then summoned to talk to Boise City Council in an executive session on October 11. Washburn told him to come prepared to talk about his “thinking and process on the actions you took associated with the OPA complaints and memo” recommending Lee be put on leave.
“As is the city practice, the mayor and council would like the opportunity to learn more about this issue prior to any communications to the public or press,” Washburn wrote.
According to his calendar, Jara had met with a KTVB reporter just days before, on October 5th.
Two days later, Jara received direction from McLean, Clegg and Woodings to suspend taking any complaints from BPD officers and refer them to Human Resources. The email said if there is a conflict, “external resources would be used.” This is a follow-up to the same instructions given in June, which Jara said violated city code and limited his ability to do his job.
“Message received,” Jara wrote back. “We will refer BPD staff accordingly.”
November 1 memo hits Jara’s inbox
McLean, Clegg, and Woodings met with Jara again in a council leadership meeting on Halloween.
The next day, he received a pair of memos. The first said his activities would be overseen by a sub-committee of Boise City Council made up of Clegg, Woodings, and city council member Jimmy Hallyburton. The second, lengthier memo laid out the city’s allegations against him, noting “several instances” where the office has exceeded its legislative authority and “failed to follow through with certain responsibilities.”
The memo said “recent OPA conduct” surrounding the investigation of Lee pushed the city and city council to review the law governing the ordinance, its processes and practices. The memo said the OPA ordinance aimed to create an office for members of the public to lodge complaints about BPD officers while they are on duty.
Once those complaints are filed, the memo said OPA is to refer them to BPD’s Office of Internal Affairs. OPA can then audit the results of any Internal Affairs investigation and choose to take action. The OPA can also make policy recommendations and can make “real-time” audits of investigations underway.
The memo said Jara exceeded his legislative authority by not following this process in several ways. First, it said he did interviews with BPD officers with complaints about Lee and instead of referring them to Internal Affairs or to Human Resources, he took the complaints directly to the Mayor’s Office. Then, he made the recommendation for Lee to be placed on leave, which is “not contemplated in the ordinance” and he released confidential information by sending information about his work back to the officers who complained.
Finally, the memo said Jara “continues” to meet with BPD officers with complaints after being warned multiple times to stop doing so and in October saying he had.
The last part of the memo detailed several instances the city says Jara had a “lack of follow-through” in responsibilities, including the long delay it took him to hire an independent lawyer to consult with. The memo also said Jara expended “significant resources” investigating claims against Lee Jara told city leadership he knew to be false.
The city said he should have pursued disciplinary measures against any officers who made these false claims.
“We are not aware of any action OPA has taken against the individuals who lodged false complaints, such as refer the individual to (Internal Affairs) to review an allegation of lack of truthfulness or to the city Attorney’s office for prosecution under Idaho Code,” the memo said.
Weeg said she could not answer specifics about which allegations against Lee were false or how Jara knew, but that the memo indicated he had told city leadership about the false reports. Jara’s attorney also declined to answer questions about the allegation he took in false reports and that he did not pursue any disciplinary action.
“Police officers are, and should be, held accountable to the highest level of truthfulness and if Jara indicated to council at some point that reports about Lee were false he had a statutory obligation to follow up on that,” Weeg said.
Timeline of events
Sullivan reccomends attorneys for Jara to hire
City Attorney Jayme Sullivan provides OPA Director Jesus Jara with a list of recommended attorneys to hire
Jara tells council about “random on body video” viewing
Jara told the Boise City Council that his office had watched random on body videos, with a slide indicating they’d watched 19 such videos
Jara delivers memo, binder of complaints
Jara delivered a memo recommending Chief Ryan Lee be put on leave and a series of nine complaints from eight officers about Lee. The city later said Jara knew some of the complaints were false.
Washburn confirms receipt of binder
Mayor Lauren McLean’s Chief of Staff Courtney Washburn confirmed receiving the binder, and told Jara the city would take next steps.
Jara, Washburn meet
Jara, Washburn and Police Chief Ryan Lee held a meeting. The content is unknown and the meeting is labeled “Connect.”
Washburn tells Jara complaints referred to outside investigator
According to Jara’s lawsuit against the city, he was told by Washburn that his binder of complaints was referred to an outside investigator
Jara meets with McLean, Washburn, Jara and Clegg
Jara meets with Washburn, Clegg, Woodings, Brooks, Sullivan
Jara met with council leadership, the mayor’s chief of staff, BPD’s Tammany Brooks and city attorney Jayme Sullivan
City sends memo to clear “some confusion”
Memo outlines OPA authority outlined in code and how internal complaints from BPD should be handled.
McLean, Washburn, Clegg and Jara meet
Jara has hired outside legal counsel for the OPA office
KTVB publishes story
Station publishes a story that contains a memo from Jara to Washburn. The city said the memo was provided by Jara to the officers who complained, which then made its way to KTVB
Jara meets with KTVB
According to his calendar, Jara met with a KTVB reporter in his office.
Jara attends council executive session
Jara was asked to talk to the Boise City Council in a private executive session to discuss “thinking and process on the actions you took associated with the OPA complaints and memo.”
McLean, Clegg, Woodings: Don’t take internal complaints
Jara is instructed not to take internal complaints from BPD officers. He replies “message received.”
Jara meets with McLean, council leadership
According to Jara’s calendar, he participated in a meeting with the mayor and council leadership
Washburn memo to Jara outlines city’s concerns
Memo alleges Jara acted outside the scope of the OPA ordinace, was slow to hire an attorney, and knew some complaints about Lee were false
Smith memo to Sullivan
Deputy city attorney Kimberly Smith wrote a memo to city attorney Jayme Sullivan outlining concerns about OPA’s use of monitoring and body cam tools
Jara’s access to tools revoked
A city staffer removed Jara’s ability to use the Axon system for viewing on body videos
Jara’s attorney emails grievance complaint
Jara attends meeting with council members, mayor, Washburn
Jara asks in a meeting if he is to stop using the live systems, per meeting notes. Washburn tells Jara they need to meet with the interim chief and “come up with a policy to vet via legal.”
Jara tries, fails to log in to Axon system
After the meeting, Jara again tried to log in to the monitoring tool
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