The Boulder Police Department Master Plan was last updated in 2013. Since then, the department has made significant progress on several goals including: community policing, responding to calls for service, upgrading department technology, and public outreach and education. As examples, the Boulder Police Department was one of the first adopters of body cameras and stop-data collection.
Since 2013, several social and technological changes have occurred that have impacted the police department and the need to update its master plan. Primarily, increasing local and national concern about police reform indicates a need for in-depth examination of community needs and utilization of police department resources.
The Police Department Master Plan process will include robust community engagement, as well as integration of the city’s racial equity planning leadership.
Adjusting the Master Plan for a Changing Environment
Since 2013, when the previous master plan was completed, several social and technological changes have occurred that have impacted the police department.
On the technology side, body-worn cameras became readily available and were viewed as an important piece of equipment to promote transparency. In 2015, the department purchased body-worn cameras for all officers and developed a strict policy on how and when they would be activated.
Also in 2015, the police department hired Hillard Heintze to review the department’s operations and specifically to investigate any indications of racial bias in policing in Boulder. Hillard Heintze provided 12 recommendations to the police department, and all 12 recommendations have been implemented.
One of the most important recommendations from the Hillard Heintze report was the need to begin collecting data on all discretionary police stops. The police department has been collecting this stop data since 2018 and uses it to help identify and evaluate officers’ work as it relates to racial bias. Body-worn cameras and stop data collection are now required statewide with the passage of SB20-217. Because the Boulder Police Department was the first law enforcement agency in the county to purchase body-worn cameras in 2015 and one of only three agencies in the entire state to collect stop data, it is already in compliance with two of the most costly and challenging aspects of SB20-217.
The police department is working to make significant changes aligned with local and national discussions around major reform in policing. The master planning process will provide a framework for the department to do a broader and more in-depth examination of community input, use data-driven strategies to review current operations in the context of changing conditions and determine future policing goals. This master plan will be used as the roadmap for creating meaningful changes to public safety in Boulder.