Chief Masterson Returns to Boise

Chief Mike Masterson Returns to Boise as Interim Chief. Here’s his message to new recruits. It contains both VISION and EXPECTATION — primary ingredients of executive leadership (p.s. I was blessed to work with him in Madison.) Here are some key excerpts. I have taken liberty in editing his excellent remarks.


Over the past 6 months you’ve learned much about enforcing laws that protect society from harm. You’ve been well-trained and, I’m sure, eager to begin practicing your skills. Today I’d like to talk about the other aspect of our work as police officers—protecting the individual freedoms and rights of others…

Why is it important? Alongside the 6 million Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, hundreds of thousands of others—including union members; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people; persons with disabilities; and those attacked simply for their race and religion—were targeted by Hitler’s regime. These are special populations within our community, still sometimes vulnerable to hatred and discrimination and denial of rights simply because of who they are or what they believe. 

It is a particularly important message to those of us in policing. For those of you just starting your careers, always remember that policing in a free society begins with the police protecting and respecting our freedoms to practice the religion we choose, to speak freely, to protest government, and to peaceably assemble for whatever cause, gun rights to gay rights.

Respect and Courage 

Respect must be given to all individuals at all times. We believe we can best earn that respect by first respecting the rights of others. We respect rights by valuing people’s differences. Police officers must be at the front line of serving our most vulnerable populations with justice, respect, and dignity.  

And, of course, courage—it takes courage to enter a burning building to rescue an individual. It takes courage to confront a person you witness commit a serious crime. It takes courage to restrain ourselves in using only that amount of force necessary to control dangerous situations.

  • But it also takes courage to protect a person who spews hatred toward others in the community. 
  • It takes courage to resist responding in kind when citizens are despicable in their conduct toward you and spit, curse, and call you names. 
  • It takes courage to contact a homeless man whom you have watched over time begin suffering from dementia to the point that he is medically endangered and connect him with veterans’ benefits. 
  • It takes courage to end a high-speed chase when it endangers others.  

The message I want you to carry with you from today is that the courage you will need in policing is not only physical—about risking your life for another. It also is courage in the form of restraint and providing protection to others…

All of us have a role in speaking out, particularly on behalf of others, for social justice, antidiscrimination, and equal rights… 

You are now at the front line of our mission: protecting, serving, and leading your community to a safer tomorrow. 

Protect citizens from crime, arrest those who violate the law, and safeguard everyone’s rights by your actions. Provide the highest level of customer service. 

We work for the greater good of the community and serve others. Be part of your community, intimately connected to the community you police

Have the courage to do what is right for others… Courage is a Latin term that is translated “from the heart” and speaks of the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face adversity without fear.

[We] are committed to achieving our city’s vision of making Boise the most livable city in the country by working in partnership with our community to prevent and solve crime, address perceptions of safety, and solve problems. Our work matters.

My challenge and my hope for you is for you to spend your career protecting the safety of others; making a difference in the lives of those we serve, perhaps, in small, but meaningful ways; and changing things for the better. 

My advice: start now as you will soon learn, as I have, that your career in policing will be over before you know it, and you will look back and ask yourself, Did I make a difference? Did I matter? And, the answer should be an unequivocal yes.

If you don’t remember my remarks, remember this… “[W]ith great power comes great responsibility.” 

Our citizens, our customers, those we serve entrust us with great power and expect us to use it morally and responsibly to protect and preserve human dignity and life.[We],the people of this city trust you to perform those duties with honor, respect, integrity, and courage. Welcome to the Boise Police Department and a noble profession.


I hope your officers have heard a similar message from their chief and that he/she expects these values and this vision to be practiced day in and day out!.

[Ed note: If you would like a copy of Chief Masterson’s comments just drop me an email and I’ll send you a full copy which includes comments about the Boise Ann Frank Memorial.


  1. The Chief has left the part of courage where officers turn in their fellow officers for corruption, bad behavior, and brutality. That takes courage.

    “It takes courage to resist responding in kind when citizens are despicable in their conduct toward you and spit, curse, and call you names. ”

    I would say that it is the ordinary citizen who has more courage not to respond to an officer who is cursing you out and calling you names considering the fact that the officer has all the power to make your life miserable unless you are a wealthy, powerful person who can make the officer’s life miserable.


  2. As a retired, 30-year officer, I believe Chief Masterson’s broader message is on target. There is one modification I would suggest. He says, “We respect rights by valuing people’s differences.” Emphasizing differences is problematic because of the human tendency to see differences as threats. This tendency encourages people to see people with differences, however that may be defined, as inferior “others.” This has serious implications for fair and impartial policing and use of force. Instead of focusing on differences, stress what we share – our humanity. We as police officers respect rights by valuing everyone’s humanity and dignity.


    1. Thanks for your comments. I understand your concerns and agree with you. I can also assure you having worked with and known Mike for around 30 years that he would also agree with you. We may mistake words, but it’s what we do that really matters! Thanks again for coming aboard!


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