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Eye On Boise

Sun., Feb. 16, 2014, 6 a.m.

Masterson: ‘Why a police leader feels compelled to take his message directly to the people’

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson has sent out a guest opinion, entitled, "Why a police leader feels compelled to take his message directly to the people," urging Idaho citizens to contact their legislators about SB 1254, the bill to allow guns on Idaho's public college campuses, where they're now banned. Masterson says he and three other police chiefs were blocked from testifying at the committee hearing about the bill last week, and he feels they had valuable information lawmakers needed to hear before passing the bill.

"The right idea will survive public debate," Masterson writes. "Arbitrarily ceasing debate raises suspicion about intent. It also destroys trust and confidence in the people running the process, in this case, the hearing in the state senate. So I take this opportunity to share my comments with you, the people I serve,  and encourage you to share your opinion, whatever it is, with your legislator on this important public safety issue."

Senate State Affairs Committee Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, the lead sponsor of the bill, gave over nearly 40 minutes of the hearing to NRA lobbyist Dakota Moore, who presented the bill instead of McKenzie while McKenzie presided over the hearing.  “I think the committee members understood the issue well and did have a complete understanding of the positions for and against it,” McKenzie said Friday. “Within the time that we had, I tried to prioritize those who were from the universities.”

In addition to the police chiefs, university students who signed up to testify also weren't called to speak; McKenzie said only about a third of those who signed up were able to testify. “On difficult social issues like this and others we have in this committee, there isn’t enough time to have every person testify to the length that they would want to,” McKenzie said. Click below for Masterson's full guest opinion article.

Why a Police Leader Feels Compelled to take his message directly to the people

 

Reader’s View:  By Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson

A reporter for the Idaho statesman called my office last week asking if I’d share comments about SB1254.  I declined and directed him to the upcoming legislative hearing believing it proper and respectful to first provide my comments directly to the legislators considering the law. That didn’t work. As the Chief of Idaho’s largest city responsible for policing Idaho’s largest university, I wasn’t allowed to speak at the hearing.

And I wasn’t alone. Moscow Police Chief David Duke, Nampa Chief Craig Kingsbury and Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue were also present to offer testimony as leaders of Idaho communities with responsibility for policing a college campus. None of us were permitted to speak.

The right idea will survive public debate. Arbitrarily ceasing debate raises suspicion about intent. It also destroys trust and confidence in the people running the process, in this case, the hearing in the state senate. So I take this opportunity to share my comments with you, the people I serve,  and encourage you to share your opinion, whatever it is, with your legislator on this important public safety issue.

Police Chiefs across Idaho support citizens Second Amendment right to bear arms. We support the portion of SB 1254 to allow current and qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed on a college campus. We support a person’s right to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense provided they are of sound mind and law abiding.

What is troubling, however, is the provision of SB1254 that authorizes a person with enhanced CCW permit to carry on a college campus. An enhanced permit requires only the most minimal of basic weapons training. Idaho laws are weak on grounds for denying a CCW permit. This poses public safety concerns trained officers see every day and it’s a risk to great to be extended to college campuses.

Most experienced officers would testify they have been called to control situations involving individuals who possess a valid CCW permit but who also suffer from serious mental health issues including PTSD. Often these individuals are not taking required medications and are exhibiting behavior perceived to be bizarre and dangerous. Access to weapons is always a priority concern for safety of the officer, the public and the individual involved.

These examples may be the minority of CCW permits holders, but our experience shows the real numbers are high enough to pose an unnecessary safety risk to students, be it sitting next to our children in a classroom or at a campus tailgate where thousands of people gather.

As most CCW permit holders know, carrying a weapon comes with great responsibility and liability. Under SB 1254, it’s okay to carry a gun and consume alcohol, but just not too much alcohol. That’s a dangerous combination for anyone especially a young adult in such a unique and sensitive environment as a college campus.

At least two college facilities in Meridian and Hailey have classrooms attached to a high school. How would weapons be treated under SB1254?

Legitimate questions should be raised and openly vetted in public testimony. On SB 1254, apparently minds are made up from the Governor on down and opportunity for free discussion of all views including law enforcement’s view of practical or unintended public safety consequences were minimized. It should be disturbing that in the people’s house,   and in a citizen’s legislature,  community police leaders were not allowed to speak.

My colleagues and I have discussed these issues and are concerned. Thank you for allowing me to share my views with you in this forum. You, the citizens we all serve deserve time and answers from the people you elect. Call them, share your views; have your voice heard and demand accountability. http://legislature.idaho.gov/who'smylegislator.htm

 




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Eye On Boise

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