OPA director discusses first months on the job, plan for future



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Posted on December 5, 2013 at 12:21 AM

SEATTLE - While the Seattle Police Department is in the middle of making reforms, there's a new person in a powerful position.
Pierce Murphy, the Director of the Office of Professional Accountability, says taking on the role during this time presents a tremendous opportunity.
Murphy has been on the job for about five months. The Office of Professional Accountability receives allegations of Seattle police officer misconduct.
"The decision as to whether to investigate or not is made by me," said Murphy.
Murphy was appointed by Mayor Mike McGinn, and confirmed by the City Council in June. 
Prior to taking the OPA director position, Murphy spent 14 years working with law enforcement in Boise, Idaho. He says he investigated 18 officer-involved shootings and more than 2400 complaints and inquiries as well as successfully advocated for 50 changes to police policy, practice or training in Boise.
In his new position he deals with complaints that range from a rude encounter to racial bias to use of force.
"Those weigh on me. Those are tough decisions," said Murphy.
He is scheduled to be OPA's director for the next three years.
"It is important to me not to be looking over my shoulder, worrying about how I should weigh on a case because I want to get reappointed. I have to make sure I am doing the right thing, and I keep my integrity intact," said Murphy.
One change Murphy plans to make is to move his office out of SPD Headquarters into a new space. He wants the public to know OPA is independent from SPD. He is also focused on making his office accessible and transparent.