Tibbs broke Boise city policy

Idaho StatesmanJune 15, 2013 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally ran on July 14, 2006.

Idaho drug czar and Boise City Councilman Jim Tibbs, while serving as interim police chief, drove a patrol car to the scene of a police shooting after drinking alcohol, a violation of city policy he knew about before breaking it.

Community ombudsman Pierce Murphy's 59-page report into the Dec. 18, 2004, shooting noted that an officer, identified in the report only as Officer No. 6, had admitted drinking one glass of wine before he was notified of the shooting of teenager Matthew Jones outside his North Boise home.

Tibbs, whom Gov. Jim Risch named drug czar Tuesday, declined to comment on Murphy's report Wednesday, saying he hadn't had a chance to read it yet. But Thursday Tibbs confirmed to the Idaho Statesman that he was the officer referred to in Murphy's report.

"I am Officer No. 6," said Tibbs, who also is rumored to be preparing to challenge Mayor Dave Bieter's re-election next year. "I believe in full disclosure. I believe in being open and honest. I'm not trying to defend it."

Tibbs said he did not tell Risch or his staff about the incident until Wednesday, the same day Murphy's report was released and the day after Risch appointed him drug czar. Risch spokesman Brad Hoaglun said the revelation would not have changed Risch's choice of Tibbs.

"No, not at all," Hoaglun said. "There's no reconsideration by the governor at all. "

Tibbs declined to discuss the details of that night except to say he was not intoxicated or impaired when he drove the patrol car, and he felt the need to get to the scene. Tibbs was at a Christmas party when he got the call. At the time, Tibbs was serving out the year as the city's interim chief before retiring at the end of the year.

"Obviously I needed to be there," he said.

City Councilwoman Elaine Clegg also went to the shooting scene that night. She saw Tibbs and said he did not appear to be intoxicated. She and other council members commended Tibbs for acknowledging his wrongdoing.

"I appreciate the fact that he recognized the need for disclosure," Council President Maryanne Jordan said.

In a statement, Bieter scolded Tibbs: "I agree with the ombudsman's report that this was a violation of city policy. Such behavior by a public servant is never acceptable, and I would be disturbed to learn of similar conduct by any city employee, no matter what his or her position or job assignment."

Police department policy prohibits employees from driving city vehicles within eight hours of consuming alcohol. Tibbs told Murphy he had one glass of wine one hour before driving. In Murphy's report, he said Tibbs "was aware of the policy and knew that operating a BPD vehicle an hour after drinking a glass of wine was not allowed."

Murphy issued a "sustained finding" against Tibbs for violating the policy. If Tibbs were still a police employee, he could be disciplined for the violation. That won't happen now that Tibbs sits on the council, but Councilman David Eberle said the city might need to require top police officials to be sober at all times.

"If you want to be on command staff, maybe you shouldn't drink," Eberle said.

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