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Officer No. 6

Tibbs comes clean on Matthew Jones incident

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Jim Tibbs is a man of many titles: "City councilor" and now, courtesy of Gov. Jim Risch, "Drug Czar." Last week, he picked up another nickname: "Officer No. 6."

That monicker came from Boise City Ombudsman Pierce Murphy's newly released report on the 2004 officer-involved shooting of Boise teen Matthew Jones. It's the reference Murphy made to an officer that showed up on the crime scene in a city car after having consumed a glass of wine within the last hour, a no-no in city policy.

Tibbs announced to the Idaho Statesman that he was the mysterious cop.

"That would be me," Tibbs later told BW. "I did have a glass of wine 35 to 40 minutes before I left my house."

It's been an up-and-down few days for Tibbs, who had been on a bit of a roll over the last year. After sweeping aside long-time council member Jerome Mapp in last year's election, he went on to become the nice newcomer to city council politics, listening and learning as he went. But with Mayor Dave Bieter coming closer to a re-election date, the rumble was that Tibbs wouldn't mind having that top spot.

Enter Gov. Jim Risch, who named Tibbs as his new drug czar, a title that was a first in many ways. Idaho has never had one and, in fact, few such positions exist by that exact name. Most "drug czars" in other states and at the federal level have a bureaucratic official title that gets whittled to "drug czar" only in day-to-day parlance and news reporting shorthand.

"I just picked it out of the national lexicon," Risch said.

But after Murphy's report took the police to task for the management of evidence in the Jones case, the attention once again focused on Tibbs, who participated in the news conference where the rifle and bayonet involved in the incident were trotted out. Tibbs and Murphy both state, however, that the management of that event was not directly under Tibbs' control. That was the job of a multi-agency task force.

"If we erred, we wanted to err on the side of full disclosure," Tibbs said.

The Officer No. 6 label might resurface. Not one to miss an opportunity to make a few pre-emptive strikes against a potential opponent, Bieter was blunt: "Such behavior by a public servant is never acceptable, and I would be disturbed to learn of similar conduct by any City employee, no matter what his or her position or job assignment," Bieter huffed.

"Every job that you have can help you or hurt you," Tibbs said.

As to the mayoral scuttlebutt, Tibbs acknowledges it but does not obsess about it, he said.

"I haven't given any though to any future political office," Tibbs said. "It doesn't mean that people don't come up to you and talk about it."

Whether the Jones incident continues to dog him is an open question here in the middle of 2006.

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