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Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee resigns at mayor’s request amid complaints from officers

Sept. 23, 2022 Updated Fri., Sept. 23, 2022 at 8:54 p.m.

Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee’s management of the department has come under scrutiny in recent months.  (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman)
Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee’s management of the department has come under scrutiny in recent months. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman)
By Alex Brizee and Ian Stevenson Idaho Statesman

At the mayor’s request, Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee has resigned from the Boise Police Department.

The city announcement came Friday amid complaints from officers, reported by KTVB, and after an investigation into an allegation that he injured a subordinate in a neck restraints demonstration last year.

McLean appointed retired Boise Police Deputy Chief Ron Winegar to take on the responsibility of acting chief, according to the city news release. He is expected to start on Tuesday. Winegar retired from the department in June 2021, according to his LinkedIn page.

“Winegar is well-known to the community and to the department, having spent 27 years as a Boise police officer,” the city news release said.

Mayor Lauren McLean told the Idaho Statesman on Friday she was having “conversations about management” and examining Lee’s role within the department.

KTVB’s story about the officer complaints against Lee, which were filed last spring, was posted Thursday night.

Friday morning, in response to a question about her confidence in Lee’s leadership, McLean said, “That is the biggest question.”

“In light of the information that I saw last night, I’ve had conversations with him,” McLean told Statesman Opinion Editor Scott McIntosh. “I’m talking today with the union. I’m talking today with the City Council. And we’re creating a path forward.”

Lee has come under scrutiny in recent months after an investigation by the Clearwater County Prosecutor’s Office determined that it was a “close call” as to whether Lee committed a crime. A Boise police sergeant alleged Lee seriously injured him by demonstrating a hold on him during a briefing in October 2021.

A county prosecutor’s office recommended no criminal charges against Lee, despite probable cause to support a criminal charge of felony battery. Clearwater County Prosecuting Attorney Clayne Tyler said he wasn’t sure the state could prove the offense “beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to a letter obtained by the Statesman.

In 2021, Lee’s salary was $185,411, according to previous Statesman reporting.

“I was surprised and saddened to hear this news,” Council member Patrick Bageant told the Statesman in a Friday text. “Over the past two years, Chief Lee has impressed me greatly and I truly wish him and his family the very best.”

Earlier this month, the Statesman requested “any and all complaints, digital or physical complaints, that were submitted to the Office of Police Accountability” regarding Lee in the past year. On Sept. 15, the city denied the request, citing Idaho Public Records Act exemptions for personnel records.

The Boise Police Department has also previously denied multiple requests by the Statesman to interview Lee. Boise police didn’t immediately respond to the Statesman’s request for comment.

Lee’s resignation will take effect Oct. 14, but he will be placed on leave until then, according to the city.

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