Respected prosecutor to oversee Metro officers' accountability - Tucson News Now

Respected prosecutor to oversee Metro officers' accountability

Kathy Morante Kathy Morante

There is a new person in charge of investigating Metro police officers, and she's a familiar face in local courtrooms.

Kathy Morante has been named the director of the Office of Professional Accountability, an office that in the past has been criticized and scandalized.

This job is big in many ways. It's important that the public is treated well when mistreated by police officers. But it's also important that the men and women in blue, doing their difficult job, are treated fairly when accused of inappropriate behavior.

Morante is probably the most famous assistant district attorney you may have never heard about.

She argued skillfully to keep James Earl Ray in prison for assassinating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

She artfully prosecuted serial killer Paul Reid.

And she actually changed victims' rights nationwide when she argued for victims' impact statements at the United States Supreme Court.

Now, she takes over the office marred by scandal and complaints. Former OPA Director Kennetha Sawyers quit after it was shown that 80 of her internal investigations were lasting more than 45 days.

Morante said she envisions a different type of office.

"Allegations of misconduct are serious, but that does not mean they have to take years and years to process. Even homicide investigations can be done carefully and thoroughly with fairness, but they don't have to take months and months and months, in most cases," Morante said.

Morante's reputation is sterling among the law enforcement community who believes her work ethic will change any stigmas of the past.

While she is respected by law enforcement, she wants everyone to know she will hold officers accountable, for the public and for the honor of the badge, and has a mission to give a voice to the voiceless.

She vows to seriously investigate all serious complaints. After all, this is a prosecutor who always put victims first.

"There are a lot of things I'm going to miss, but absolutely, No. 1, is the interactions with the families of murder victims. That's what has taught me so much about grace and dignity and strength," she said.

Morante's last day as an assistant district attorney was Wednesday. She begins her new role in the Office of Professional Accountability next week.

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