New OPA Director Pierce Murphy. A Breath of Fresh Air or More of the Same Stench?

I’m sometimes accused by critics of being negative. Of course, negative to Seattle’s political left is anyone who opposes its view of how life should be lived. So, I felt a guarded optimism after I read this month’s Guardian interview with Seattle’s new Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) director, Pierce Murphy.

I came away surprisingly, though cautiously, hopeful. Because an interviewee can say anything they think the interviewer wants to hear, there are certain things one can focus on when assessing a new “anyone” for any position in Seattle government. In evaluating what the new OPA director had to say, a sure-fire giveaway would be the use of leftist jargon, i.e. politically correct terminology.

Some examples of these gems are: sustainability, diversity, holistic, inclusive, and, of course, social justice and progressive. The only example that came close to this was when Murphy cited, “teachable moments,” but I’ll give him a break on that one. I even allowed that he might have said it, tongue-in-cheek, which would be even more forgivable.

Murphy has a decent enough law enforcement background to placate most cops, especially when compared with civilians with no law enforcement experience at all, his having served as a sworn reserve police officer. He is also most recently from Boise, Idaho. I don’t know about you, and surprises can—and often do—happen, but generally I’d take someone in a civilian police oversight capacity who is from Idaho over, say, somewhere like California or New York, any day. However, anomalies do exist, both left and right, coming from every location.

Mr. Murphy, through the interview, appears professional, empathetic to law enforcement, expresses sensible views toward investigating officers, and is, something sadly lacking in Seattle, concerned about his personal integrity. In fact, the interview concludes with this statement: “… my personal integrity is all that I have. I intend to keep my integrity intact.”

I, and I believe other officers, will give Director Murphy a fair shake and hope he adheres to the goals he’s expressed during his interview. After years of being treated by the OPA director with antipathy and from a left wing taint—like cops are something smelly and sticky on the bottom of its Birkenstocks—it would be nice to deal with someone who is simply fair. Is that too much to ask? (Don’t answer that).

Of course the overarching conundrum looming over the SPD rank and file is: If the cops think, believe, hope Director Murphy is so good, then why would Seattle government hire him in the first place?

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