Seattle’s new nominee for investigator into police misconduct was announced on the same day the first report was released updating the city on where important reforms are in the Seattle Police Department.
Pierce Murphy, chosen by Mayor Mike McGinn to be the director of the Office of Professional Accountability is no stranger to the job. Murphy has done the same job in Boise, Idaho for the past 15 years, hearing complaints from the public, and investigating accusations against police.
“When push comes to shove and I’ve weighed all the factors, I’m perfectly comfortable making a decision even knowing that somebody won’t be happy,” said Murphy. “And in some cases, nobody will be happy.”
He has his work cut out for him.
Murphy comes to Seattle at a time when police are being told to reform — after the department of justice found a pattern of excessive force.
The court-appointed monitor, Merrick Bobb released his first report on Friday.
Bobb praised Acting Chief Jim Pugel for his work to enact reforms, but he criticized much of the department for being resistant to change.
“In-fighting up and down the command staff level has been a concern,” wrote Bobb. “the SPD does not appear settled on a unified vision of what it is to become.”
When asked about that, Pugel said, “ I personally have not been aware of any in-fighting of our command staff.”
Pugel also said it is incumbent for leaders in the department to encourage officers to follow the monitoring plan.
Rich O’Neill, president of Seattle’s police union, said if there is resistance to change it’s because many officers still don’t agree with the federal investigation that found police used excessive force 20 percent of the time.
The acting chief said they need to get over it.
“The evidence that was there or wasn’t there, it doesn’t matter, the trial is over, the settlement is here,” said Pugel. “We have to work with the settlement and it will lead to constitutional policing.”