- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Montgomery’s police chief and mayor sparred during an unusual joint appearance Monday, with the chief saying he was being forced into retirement and the mayor laying out concerns that led to the ouster.

Police Chief Kevin Murphy said he was being forced out after more than three years by Mayor Todd Strange, just weeks after the arrest and subsequent suicide of Murphy’s twin brother.

While Strange said questions had arisen about spending and a hostile work environment allegedly created by Murphy, the chief said he always made decisions he believed were best for the Montgomery Police Department.

Murphy didn’t apologize for having what he called a “strict” style that included admonishing a young officer who showed up for work with mud on his boots.

“That’s what police chiefs do,” said Murphy, who has spent 28 years with the department.

Murphy denied mistreating anyone but noted that many ranking officers were inexperienced and said: “Maybe I pushed this group a little too hard.”

Murphy’s departure came three weeks after the death of his twin brother Patrick Murphy, who shot himself after being charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Montgomery.

The chief has been on leave since his brother’s death, and Strange said he would remain on leave until the end of the fiscal year.

Murphy said his brother was hurt and ashamed following an alcohol-related wreck, partly for the attention it brought on the chief. Murphy said he was still grieving, but he denied suggestions that he was “emotionally unstable.”

“I was ready last week to come back to work,” he said.

Murphy said he was surprised Strange told him he wouldn’t be allowed to return as chief. The mayor said he and Murphy have disagreed on management styles, spending and other issues.

Murphy said his disagreements with the mayor included the cancellation of a Christmas event put on for retirees and officers. The city’s public safety director called off the event, Murphy said, when such a move should have been the chief’s job.

Strange said conversations about Murphy’s job began as far back as December.

Murphy said he had been “ostracized from my MPD family” on orders from City Hall during a time of grief following his brother’s death, but Strange denied barring colleagues from talking with the chief.

The mayor named Murphy’s chief of staff as interim chief until a permanent replacement is hired.

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