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Charleston Mayor Riley Pays Tribute to Patrick V. Murphy: A Cop's Cop, a Police Chief's Police Chief, a Mayor's Friend

By Laura DeKoven Waxman and Mike Brown
January 30, 2012


Patrick V. Murphy, who led the police departments in New York City, Detroit, Washington (DC), and Syracuse, and served as President of the Police Foundation and Director of The U.S. Conference of Mayors Police Policy Board, died December 16 at his home in Wilmington (NC). In a tribute to Murphy during a January 19 Winter Meeting plenary session, Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. remembered him as "the father of community policing, the father of modern, positive police procedures and techniques which contribute to increased safety in neighborhoods in our cities throughout America," and as a leader whose "spirit is in all of your neighborhoods, in every police department in our country."

Murphy, said Riley, understood intuitively that as things were changing in America, the head bashing and the antagonistic and sometimes corrupt practices of law enforcement were wrong and weren't going to make communities safer. He knew, said Riley, that fear and intimidation no longer would work and that there had to be mutual bonds of admiration and respect.

After leaving New York City, Riley explained, Murphy joined the Police Foundation in Washington (DC) and, while there, helped to form the Police Executive Research Foundation, which continues today to work closely with the Conference of Mayors. When he later moved to the Conference of Mayors, Riley said, Murphy became "a phenomenal resource for all of us. He was the go-to person if you were looking for a new police chief. If you had a problem or something that worried you, or a challenge of law enforcement, which we know is the first responsibility of our cities, we had Pat Murphy at our side."

Riley described Murphy as "a very humble man, happy, fun, friendly, gentle, and so wise," and recalled time spent with Murphy and his wife, Betty at Conference of Mayors meetings. "Being with him was a treasure, something I will have with me all of my life," Riley said. "He was a cop's cop, a police chief's police chief. He was a mayor's friend, and he was such a fine human being."

Born in 1920, the son of a New York City police officer, Murphy was one of eight children. He is survived by seven children, 21 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren. "The happy thought about that is that the genes and the goodness of Pat Murphy are extending for generations to come," Riley said. Betty, Murphy‘s wife of 66 years, died on January 27, exactly six weeks following his death.

Representing the family at the Conference of Mayors tribute to Murphy, and recognized by Mayor Riley, was a son, Gerard, who serves on the staff of the Police Executive Research Foundation.