Patrick V. Murphy, an outspoken former police commissioner, is in trouble with his colleagues for being too outspoken. Angry that he's called police "racist," among other things, some of them are trying to drive him out of their association.
The head of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has asked Murphy to attend an unprecedented closed hearing next Tuesday in Wilmington, Del., to answer charges that he has made derogatory statements against the organization and its members.
The hearing could lead to Murphy's censure, suspension or expulsion from the group.
One leader of the action, Howard C. Shook, chief of police in Middletown Township, Pa., near Philadelphia, said yesterday it wouldn't bother him to see Murphy drummed out of the 13,000-member law enforcement organization. "People just got tired of his accusations and insinuations. He sits up there in Washington and tries to tear down IACP," he said.
Murphy, former public safety director in Washington, police commissioner in Detroit and New York and now president of the non-profit Police Foundation in Washington, sent a letter to IACP President James P. Damos, comparing the hearing to an Inquisition and saying it mocked his First Amendment right to free speech.
Quinn Tamm, a former FBI official and longtime executive director of IACP, rushed to Murphy's defense, calling the incident "shabby" and likening the hearing to a star chamber.
Damos, chief of police in University City, Mo., outside St. Louis, said yesterday, "It is regrettable that Pat has chosen to have this discussion in the news media. We want to have a private meeting with Pat. It is not a star chamber."
The exchange of letters between Damos and Murphy, which were released by Murphy, outlines four "specifications" against him. The organization said that in March in Seattle he called the police world "racist;" that he had self-servingly contradicted prior statements; that he made disparaging remarks about small departments, and that he called Joe O'Neill, the former police commissioner of Philadelphia, "wacky."
Murphy responded that he felt policing, like society, still suffers from racism, that others too had contradicted earlier statements, that he had criticized large as well as small departments, and that he thought some of O'Neill's ideas are wacky.
Shook said he introduced a petition asking for an investigation of Murphy at IACP's meeting in New Orleans last fall. He did so, he said, at the request of O'Neill and another chief.
Shook said resentment against Murphy and his critical statements has been building for years among many IACP members. "He thinks he's an untouchable. He hasn't contributed that much to good law enforcement," he said.
The Police Foundation has sponsored research that has challenged traditional law enforcement beliefs. For instance, one study found that random patrols by police in cars has no effect on the level of crime.