BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The director of Boise's police watchdog group had been placed on administrative leave, the city's mayor announced Friday.
The decision to place Office of Police Accountability Director Jesus Jara on leave is in response to ongoing concerns with his professional judgement and a lack of confidence in the actions of the office, Mayor Lauren McLean’s office said in a news release. Jara was made director in late August 2021.
City Council members who oversee the watchdog group — including Council President Elaine Clegg, Council President Pro Tem Holli Woodings, and Council Member Jimmy Hallyburton — made the decision with McLean, KTVB reported.
“We must have confidence in this office and trust the judgement of its director,” McLean and council leadership said in the release. “This step is necessary to protect the interests of our police officers and the public.”
On Friday evening, Hepworth Law Offices announced it was hired to represent Jara regarding a potential breach of contract by the city, retaliation concerns and “violations of law.”
“Mr. Jara maintains he has acted with utmost diligence and integrity, and at all times has sought to restore public confidence in the City of Boise’s institutions,” Hepworth Law Offices said in a statement. “Mr. Jara looks forward to defending his honor and reputation when not bound by city policies regarding confidentiality.”
Placing Jara on leave comes amid a period of turmoil surrounding the Boise Police Department. McLean asked for former Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee's resignation in September, and in November announced an investigation to determine if a police captain, whose ties to a white supremacist group became known after he retired, violated the rights of any residents during his 22 years with the agency.
Lee’s resignation followed an investigation into multiple complaints against him by officers and into whether Lee injured an officer during a training in 2021. The Office of Police Accountability recommended Lee be placed on leave during that investigation and city leaders chose not to follow that recommendation.
McLean told news outlets at the time that Jara was “out of scope” regarding his recommendation to the mayor.