As predicted by several politicians (BW, News, "Heavy Traffic At BOI," January 31, 2007), Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson said this week he's ready to combine the Boise Airport Police Department with the city's main police department. After studying the issue for four months, Masterson told the Boise City Council that integrating the two departments would save money and increase service. Though a vote hadn't been taken as BW went to press, previous reports have indicated broad support on the council to make the merger.
"The merger will have equal benefits to employees of both agencies, with the citizens of Boise benefiting the most with the prospect of an even higher level of public safety service throughout the city," Masterson said in a prepared statement.
The airport police now work under a $2 million budget, with an authorized strength of 30 officers. The BPD has a $42 million budget, 289 sworn officers allowed, and a civilian staff of 78.
The change might mean a raise for airport officers. Average starting salary for an airport cop is $32,244, whereas average starting salary for a regular cop is $35,286, according to Lynn Hightower, Boise Police spokeswoman.
Still to come: Whether or not to allow the airport police to unionize, as the Boise Police officers have. Last year, officers asked Mayor Dave Bieter to allow them to unionize, but he declined their request (BW, News, "Who's In Charge At BOI?" October 6, 2006). Hightower said BOI officers would likely be allowed to join the union, but "the question is, at what point."