“We have a new rookie tonight.” That was my introduction from Sergeant Mel Lynn to my fellow patrol officers 47 years ago tonight – November 21, 1969 – my first day as a Boise, Idaho, Police Officer.
The next 32 years would bring a variety of assignments. My police career did not follow what many would describe as a standard path. However, it did afford me opportunities to see many aspects of government, not only policing but government operation in general.
I had only served a little more than four years in uniformed patrol when I was tapped for a quasi-supervisory position in the training division. A program had begun which allowed perspective police officers to learn the various aspects of policing in a modified self-study program while serving in security positions at the Boise Airport and at Boise State University. I was responsible for supervising and monitoring the progress of a team of ‘interns’, as the prospective officers were designated.
This was at the beginning stages of implementation of airport security. I and the other members of the supervisory team were involved in the initial efforts to screen passengers, including the installation of the Boise Airport’s first magnetometer and x-ray scanner for carry-on baggage.
I also had the honor of supervising the training of Officer Mary Morris, who would become the first female patrol officer in the history of the Boise Police Department. Her impressive performance – she held the record for the quickest successful completion of the training program – paved the way for female officers in Boise today.
Following my assignment in training and a short time as a patrol officer and patrol supervisor, I had a short assignment as a special investigator. In this assignment, I assisted out of state detectives in a case which ultimately would become the backbone of my first novel, Retribution.
I was then assigned to a crime analysis unit, initially because I was the only officer on the department who, because of prior training, knew how to program a computer. Ultimately, I supervised that unit, which led to other administrative assignments: personnel, budget and finance, and administrative assistant to the chief of police.
In 1994, I was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division as the deputy division commander for all investigations except those related to narcotics. My counterpart in narcotics, Steve Pyle, would ultimately become one of my best friends.
I regard my time as an investigative commander as my best assignment until I ultimately became a police chief. Boise was fortunate to have some of the best investigators in the State of Idaho and I learned a great deal from them.
In 1998, I was assigned as the commander of Internal Affairs. While I initially did not want to leave the Criminal Investigation Division, my time in internal affairs became an invaluable experience which paved the way to a subsequent career.
In 2001, I was selected as the Chief of Police of the suburban city of Meridian, Idaho, and retired from Boise PD. The Meridian Police Department was experiencing severe growth issues trying to serve a city which had expanded from a population of 9,000 in 1990 to nearly 50,000 in 2001. The lessons I learned in my administrative assignments 15 years earlier served me well in leading Meridian on a path of the future.
I retired from active policing in 2003 to accept a position as an instructor and course coordinator at the Southern Police Institute, the in-service training arm of the Justice Administration Department of the University of Louisville. For six years, I oversaw training courses for current police officers and also taught such subjects as police administration, media relations, and internal investigations. Collaterally, I worked as a national consultant on issues of police policy and use of force across the country.
After nearly 40 years in law enforcement and law enforcement related activity, I retired. I now enjoy several pursuits unrelated to law enforcement, but I can look back fondly on the experiences that followed that first introduction – “We have a new rookie tonight.”