Former New York City Police Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy, who died December 16 at the age of 91, was more than a titan of American policing. He was, quite literally, one of the founding fathers of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the entire College community mourns his passing, just as we celebrate his enormous legacy.
In 1954, Murphy, then on the staff of the New York City Police Academy, was assigned by his commanding officer to work on establishing a police science program at the Baruch School, then a branch of the City College of New York. Murphy's plan became a reality a year later. In 1963, Murphy, by then head of the Police Academy, helped draft a proposal for Mayor Robert F. Wagner to create an independent police college as part of the City University of New York, which had been formed two years earlier. The proposal had the enthusiastic support of CUNY Chancellor Albert Bowker, and led to the establishment of the College of Police Science, which in 1964 became John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
By any measure, Patrick V. Murphy was truly "present at the creation."
Murphy made his reputation as a reform-oriented police official in four cities during the turbulent 1960s and '70s: as police chief in Syracuse, NY; as the first public safety director of Washington, DC, as police commissioner of Detroit, MI, and, most famously, as police commissioner in New York. Wherever he went, and whatever position he held, Murphy's six-decade career in policing was marked by an emphasis on reform and restraint, performance and professionalism.
"When our students do research on the history of police leadership, they quickly come to the name and legacy of Patrick V. Murphy," noted John Jay College President Jeremy Travis.
Murphy was courageous in his pursuit of police professionalization. For his tactics in combating police corruption, he was reviled – and feared – by entrenched special interests in the department. For his advocacy of restraint in the use of deadly force, and his pursuit of other reforms, he was censured by fellow police executives. For his strident advocacy of higher education for police and community-oriented policing, he was disdained by "old-school" officers who felt these were merely gambits by liberals to ruin the department. Yet time after time, history proved Murphy correct.
The tireless advocacy of education and innovation has been a hallmark of Murphy's distinguished career and, many believe, helped transform American police work from an occupation into a profession. In 1968, he served as the first director of the newly created Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, a forerunner of the current National Institute of Justice, which funded wide-ranging research efforts and provided critical educational support for in-service officers. In 1973, following his retirement from active-duty policing, Murphy began a 12-year tenure as president of the Police Foundation, an organization that helped to set the agenda for modern policing by carrying out groundbreaking research studies on such topics as police corruption, deadly force, policewomen on patrol, domestic violence, preventive patrol and, in 1979, the seminal National Advisory Commission Report on Higher Education for Police Officers.
John Jay College was never far from Murphy's heart. In 1985, he joined the College's faculty and taught for two years before moving on to his next challenge, as director of the Police Policy Board for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a post he held until 1998.
In March 2006, John Jay launched a lecture series on police leadership to honor Murphy's contributions to the field and his long connection to the College. Current New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly was the featured speaker at the inaugural event, and since then some of the leading figures in American policing have delivered the Patrick V. Murphy Lecture. Murphy and his wife, Betty, attended every one of the lectures, until health issues no longer permitted him to do so.
"We treasure our special connection with Patrick V. Murphy, and his family, and honor his invaluable contributions to American policing and criminal justice education," said President Travis. "We trust that the Patrick V. Murphy lectures in police leadership will continue to keep his legacy alive, while contributing to the continued evolution of the police profession, as he would have wanted."