Fewer major crimes have been reported to Boise Police in the past year. Additionally, fewer complaints regarding police behavior have been logged by the City of Boise community ombudsman. Yet a group of citizens has decided now is as good a time as any to begin what they call Boise Cop Watch.
"I'm not looking to confront anybody. I don't hate the police," Cop Watch organizer Peter Rimkus told Citydesk. "I just think sometimes when we interact, police can become very intimidating and become a problem with their attitudes. I don't think anybody holds them accountable for that."
Rimkus, originally from Chicago, has lived in Boise for seven years. He said he appreciates that his project, which will include posting videos of police action on YouTube and the group's website, carries some risk.
"Absolutely, a lot of people thought we were crazy, saying the cops were going to harass the crap out of us," Rimkus said. "That statement in itself is why we have to do this."
Rimkus and three others spent six hours on Jan. 14 walking through Boise's downtown with cameras in hand.
"But we didn't see much," he said. "I'm curious if it was because of the new smoking ban or that it was too cold, or both."
Pierce Murphy, Boise's police ombudsman since 1999, said he has no problem with the Cop Watch.
"[Rimkus] not only has a right but an interest in monitoring the police," Murphy told Citydesk. "As long as it's done in a way that is lawful and safe, why not?"
But Murphy cautioned anyone from thinking that a video was definitive proof of bad behavior.
"It's a helpful tool, but video is two-dimensional," said Murphy. "It's subject to editing and perspective.
"I would urge anyone who thinks an officer has acted inappropriately to call my office, so that we could, with the authority and access that my office has, investigate beyond the two dimensions and look at the entire incident."