© 2024 Boise State Public Radio
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

City of Boise launches investigation into racist cop with white supremacy ties

Boise Police Department
/
Facebook

The City of Boise is still reeling from the discovery, made by writer and activist Molly Conger, that a recently retired Boise Police officer had ties to a white supremacy organization.

Retired BPD captain Matt Bryngelson used a pseudonym while spouting racist beliefs online and working as a city officer. He also was among speakers listed at a conference hosted by a white nationalist organization group.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean condemned Bryngelson and said the city would launch an investigation. She made the comments before a previously scheduled negotiations session between the city and the police union.

"The community, city council and my office deserve to know if any resources were used by Bryngelson, or others in the department, to advance racist ideology," she said.

That includes reviewing arrest records and other interactions to ensure select citizens did not have their rights violated. McLean said the investigation would be independent, conducted by an entity with "deep experience in this kind of work."

A city spokesperson said they were working quickly to identify investigators but had no timeline.

The Boise Police Union has denounced Bryngelson and said it will support the mayor. In an unsigned press release, the Police Department said it would cooperate fully.

Bryngelson was identified as a speaker at the American Renaissance conference using the pseudonym Daniel Vinyard. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the organization as a white nationalist hate group.

Bryngelson also appeared in a video interview with the American Renaissance founder earlier this year and posted blogs under the same pseudonym while he was employed as a Boise police officer and before he was promoted to captain. In the interview, he discussed what it was like to be a White cop and expressed racist views about Black people.

Studies and reporting have repeatedly shown the prevalence of extremist and white supremacy beliefs in U.S. law enforcement. This data is also backed up by internal audits of police departments across the country.

A 2015 report from the FBI obtained by The Intercept warned that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.”

In a conversation with Idaho Matters on Tuesday, Brian Holland from the International Brotherhood of Police Officers was quick to distance the rest of the force from Bryngelson.

“We don't don't abide by those ideals,” he said, “and we go out every day and earn that trust so we just wanted to not be painted in that same light.”

Boise City councilwoman Lisa Sanchez said that, as a person of color, she was not surprised by the news. While upsetting, she said she was grateful the story came to light.

“Matthews’ behavior is an extreme example of what people of color have to experience living in Boise, Idaho,” she said, “but we see degrees of white supremacy existing in our everyday lives.”

"We have to take responsibility that we live in a community that has a legacy of this," she said.

In July, both Idaho Congressmen, Republicans Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher, voted against an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require officials to report instances of white supremacy and neo-Nazi activity in the police and military.

Bryngelson had been a police captain since 2021, but served in the department for 27 years.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Molly Conger's last name.

I joined Boise State Public Radio in 2022 as the Canyon County reporter through Report for America, to report on the growing Latino community in Idaho. I am very invested in listening to people’s different perspectives and I am very grateful to those who are willing to share their stories with me. It’s a privilege and I do not take it for granted.
Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.

You make stories like this possible.

The biggest portion of Boise State Public Radio's funding comes from readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

Your donation today helps make our local reporting free for our entire community.