- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Incoming Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson has hired Patrick Murphy, an 82-year-old former New York City police commissioner-turned-consultant, to help reform the county's police force.
"He will be a tremendous benefit," Mr. Johnson said yesterday. "He will report directly to me. He will have the authority so that we have a first-class department.
"All the recommendations from Commissioner Murphy will be implemented," said Mr. Johnson, who indicated Mr. Murphy's tenure with the county was open-ended and could last two or three years.
Mr. Murphy lives in Bethesda. He was police chief in Syracuse, N.Y., and commissioner in New York City, where he served a total of 23 years. He was public safety director in the District in 1967 and 1968, a time that included the race riots.
He was the first administrator of the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, chairman of the Montgomery County Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission, president of the Police Foundation, a college president, FBI graduate and a Navy pilot in World War II.
"I am well aware that the department has had a number of problems," Mr. Murphy said, adding that the first thing he would check was how the department is organized.
His goal, Mr. Murphy said, is "to make it a model in every sense of the word."
Some police officials were skeptical of the move by Mr. Johnson, who campaigned on promises to clean up the problem-plagued department.
Mr. Johnson, who served for eight years as the county's prosecutor before seeking the county's top post, has had several conflicts with local police departments that have come under FBI study.
Critics emphasized that Mr. Johnson's prosecutors took seven officers to court on various charges of abuses, but all were acquitted.
"I didn't hear anything new today," said Tony Walker, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
"A lot of people don't want to work with Jack Johnson," Mr. Walker continued. "I'm leery of dictatorships. I'm very concerned about my memberships and protecting their rights."
The union official suggested that Mr. Murphy do "his field work" rather than just rely on what he hears from critics.
"I'm certainly very receptive of Commissioner Murphy," Mr. Walker said. "He is well respected. We will have to wait and see."
Morale in the department is falling, Mr. Walker said. A record 80 officers have quit so far this year. Normal turnover is about 36 officers a year.
Numerous officers may have quit because Prince George's has the second-lowest pay scale in the Washington area. At least 12 officers went to jobs with police in Montgomery County and Maryland, Mr. Walker said.
Mr. Johnson, who will be sworn in Dec. 2, also announced that C.D. Mote, president of the University of Maryland, and Patrick Swygert, president of Howard University, will assist his transition team.
The university presidents will work with Mr. Johnson to improve education, spur economic development, improve health care, protect the environment, solve transportation problems "and many others," Mr. Johnson said.
Both presidents said they were pleased and honored by their appointments, and promised to help in setting government goals for serving county residents.

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