Boise Police Chief: Critical incident training was underway moments before the mass shootings.

“I think the challenge we don’t talk about enough is: what is our mental health infrastructure? What is our ability to connect and reach out to people? Lee said. “Because well-educated people can sit and watch this and realize that no one in their right frame of mind would engage in an act like this. What infrastructure do we have to be able to help people avoid a tragedy like this? “

Lee visited Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about the investigation, the growing challenge of tackling hateful social media rants and critical incident training that, ironically, was being conducted moments before this week’s tragic incident.

“The question is: what can we do to help ourselves and to help our fellow human beings before they are in this time of crisis?

Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: This is the morning edition on Boise State Public Radio News Hello. I am George Prentice. Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee is here. And in what has been a … well, a pretty tough week, we’re thankful that he could give us some time this morning. Chief, welcome to the program.

CHIEF RYAN LEE: Thank you for inviting me.

PRENTICE: Upstairs, I have a few questions in the wake of this week’s tragedy… e the fatal shootings at Boise Town Square Mall. The suspect, Jacob Bergquist of Boise … died of his injuries. Was he known to the police?

LEE: The best way to answer that is that he was known to the police here in Boise, as well as some of the other agencies here in Treasure Valley. We have had contact with him for various reasons. Probably the best way to describe most of these contacts would be things like trespassing – or disorderly conduct – nature calls. So he was a person we knew. We knew him. But at the time of the incident, there were no outstanding cases or probable cause to stop it, to our knowledge.

PRENTICE: Could you tell us a little bit about the response schedule at the Boise PD mall and other agencies… but in particular your department… and how critical that schedule was? Indeed, it was an important test of deployment and readiness.

LEE: I appreciate that, and I think that’s a pretty nuanced answer. Sadly, there have been enough of these active killings in the United States that we have been able to analyze. And generally speaking, the data shows that if you are not able to intervene in about seven and a half minutes, the ability of some kind of intervention to stop the violence and stop the lethality of the attack does not. is really not that important. You must respond in honor of the seven and a half minute time. The sooner you can get there, the sooner the police can do something to change the behavior… the more likely they are to mitigate the impact of the event. And so with that in mind, a lot of the training that we have here at Boise, a lot of the training that we continue to do, is designed for rapid deployment, with the ability for officers to take the initiative to ‘bring a positive change to the situation. And I think that’s a lot of what we saw in Monday’s tragedy. I do not want to deny the gravity of this tragedy in any way – the loss of two members of the community lives on. But the ability of our agents from the moment we make the first call to the dispatch center that goes out on the radio at the time, our agents contact the suspect and are able to engage him in a way that changes his behavior and stops. This cycle of violence lasts about two and a half minutes. We know he was well armed and well equipped. I am sure that if our officers had not bravely and heroically stepped into danger, and quickly done exactly what they were asked to do, it could have been a much more catastrophic event.

PRENTICE: To that end, can I also assume that sooner rather than later you will deconstruct this event for future training?

LEE: Absolutely. The timing was pretty interesting. Coincidentally, we were undergoing training at the command level to deal with critical incidents. We literally had several command staff – about 12 to 15 of them – in a classroom, talking about how to handle critical incidents when this event occurred. So it is very important for us to stay at the forefront of technology … so that we can effectively serve this growing community and keep it safe and peaceful to the best of our ability.

PRENTICE: The investigation… the forensic investigation… can we assume that much of this will be technical? That is, dive into the suspect’s use of the technology?

LEE: There is in almost every significant investigation these days with the integration of technology, frankly in the information age … there is an important element, but especially when we try to understand the motivations, which are still obviously a question that we have yet to piece together. Technical analysis, computer forensic analysis, examining social media platforms, all of this is going to be time consuming and will be an important focus of any investigation.

PRENTICE: You know as well as anyone that shortly after the event broke, social media too… ie rumors. Can you talk about hushing up these rumors, and some are talking about some sort of conspiracy?

LEE: So the first thing I want to be absolutely clear is that there is no evidence that there is a conspiracy, that there are other planned attacks, or that there is a continuing threat to the public. This individual acted alone. There is no indicator of anything. Otherwise, it’s a challenge in the information age we find ourselves in. We would like to think that the interconnectivity with social media and smartphones… it would kind of improve our connection in society. And in many ways he has. But there is a flip side to this coin. And I think the ability of people to put forward their own theories, or frankly, their own false narratives these days, is a big challenge for us as a society. It’s a pretty sad statement that people are quickly stoking the flames of false information in the wake of a tragedy like this. But sadly, after speaking to many other police leaders across the country prior to this event, I know this is something that is happening.

PRENTICE: Halloween is this weekend. Election day is Tuesday. Lots of people will be walking around the neighborhoods. Is there a sense of urgency and additional awareness among the police forces in the coming days?

LEE: Well, we’ll have reinforced patrols for Halloween night. Obviously, we’re hoping people in the midst of a pandemic are still taking health-safe Halloween precautions, but we do recognize that people will be outside. We will strengthen the patrols for that. We are also making plans to improve the patrols around the election, knowing that people are following this event, feeling a little more anxious, a little more nervous, and we want people to feel safe when ‘they go ahead and exercise their rights.

PRENTICE: I have two final questions for you. Mass shootings. Sad to say, they are not new. That doesn’t make them any less personal or tragic. But in a community … in a state where guns are everywhere, how do you prevent this kind of tragedy from happening?

LEE: I think the focus is really on whether or not guns play a role… it’s part of a conversation… and it can always come out when discussing these events. I think the challenge we don’t talk about enough is what is our mental health infrastructure? What is our ability to connect and reach out to people? Because I think you and I as well educated people can sit and watch this and realize that no one in their right mental state would engage in an act like this. What infrastructure do we have, to be able to contact to help people avoid a tragedy like this? I think there is a much deeper problem to consider. The bottom line is that when we talk about these … the verbiage commonly used as “mass shooting”. But the reality is that these are “mass killing” events. We see them happening with in-car devices, you know, cars. We have seen a variety of different attack methods all over the place, not just in the United States, but across the world. And the question is: what can we do to help ourselves and our fellow human beings before they are in this time of crisis, where does that appear to be the act they are going to perform?

PRENTICE: Finally, can I ask you what is the best advice that someone has given you … or that you have given to another cop … such a tragedy?

LEE: I think the best advice is to recognize that everyone has their limits and that you often don’t realize your limits until after you’ve crossed that threshold. And to be mindful and take care of yourself, to take care of your family, not to expect your family and friends to be the mechanism that helps you decompress, and not essentially pass this on to them. trauma, but to seek other healthy means. to cope with and manage stress. Obviously, the scale of a tragedy like this brings this to the fore, but the reality of the profession of policing and to some extent the profession of firefighter as well, as we see so many tragic events. and we need to make sure that we equip our officers to deal with those stresses that most of society doesn’t have to deal with.

PRENTICE: I would be remiss if I did not ask how your officer is – how he or she is – the officer who was injured this week.

LEE: The officer is fine. They were able to be treated and released from the hospital. In response to your previous question, I am always concerned about the physical health of an agent, but there is also an element of mental and emotional health in an event like this. And so, we’re going to make sure we’re not only helping our officer recover physically, but giving him the right support so he can return to duty.

PRENTICE: This is Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee. Any day he’s the busiest person in town, and this morning he gave us a few minutes. Chief, thank you very much. Have a good morning.

LEE: Thanks. Take care.

Find journalist George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

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