At a press conference this afternoon at Seattle's City Hall, Mayor Mike McGinn announced that Idaho candidate Pierce Murphy will be replacing Kathryn Olson as the director of the Office of Accountability (OPA)—the office charged with investigating police misconduct and appropriately disciplining officers.
Mayor McGinn did not directly address the criticisms of Olson's work in the OPA, but he did acknowledge that "there had been a lot of concerns about our complaint process," and that the OPA is "absolutely critical" to reforming the Seattle Police Department.
Mayor McGinn said he believed that Murphy was the perfect man to fulfill the role of leading the OPA. Before welcoming him to the stage, McGinn added that Murphy was "top notch," a "strong leader," and "that he's his own man and willing to take the heat."
Pierce Murphy began his short speech by explaining that "Seattle must be free to live and recreate in peace, free from fear. The police must trust and respect those people that they serve. Essential to public trust in police is accountability. We expect them to act in fairness and compassion. Civilian oversight of the police is a sure way of promoting accountability and insuring trust in the community. I will apply all the experience, knowledge, and skill I have to this very important task.
I know that four things govern the effectiveness of oversight: Independence, objectivity, transparency and compassion. These are essential to police reform and accountability. These will be my focus while I work with seattle and the police department."
Before Murphy can start working he must be confirmed by the Seattle City Council, a process that could be completed by the end of May.
Murphy was chosen from a pool of around 150 applicants, narrowed down to three finalists. As Dominic reported last September, Kathryn Olson left some shitty shoes to fill. For example, of the 584 incidents her office investigated last year, only 12 percent resulted in the punishment of an officer. Instead of properly investigating incidents of brutality, she essentially became a police apologist.
Murphy comes from Boise, Idaho, and he has a strong track record for police oversight. He created Boise's version of the OPA in July of 1999. During his tenure he has "investigated 18 officer-involved shootings and over 2,400 complaints and inquiries; advocated successfully for over 50 changes to police policy, practice or training; strengthened the internal affairs process of investigating and resolving public complaints; and designed an alternate dispute resolution process to resolve minor demeanor and service quality complaints," according to a press release from the Mayor's office.
Welcome, Murphy. We're delighted to have you! Now get your ass to work.