Celeste Murphy confirmed as Chattanooga’s first female police chief

She plans to visit higher crime communities as her first order of business

The Chattanooga City Council made history this evening when they confirmed Celeste Murphy as the city’s new police chief. She is the first female, and Black female chief in the city’s history.

History means nothing to Murphy if she can’t get the community to stop seeing police as the enemy.

Celeste Murphy was confirmed 8-to-nothing by City Council. It’s a position she isn’t taking lightly. She sees Chattanooga as a long-term project, not a three- or four-year term, like some previous chiefs.

“I chose this profession, one, to serve. I built my career around this particular day being a police chief because I wanted to be able to have my own department and share my views, and those things don’t happen overnight. The issues that we’re dealing with didn’t happen overnight, but I’m a fixer. I love seeing the completion of my work. I’m here to work with the citizens for as long as it takes and as long as you’ll have me.”

During our interview with Chief Murphy, we asked about Monday’s story about the Grove Street shooting last September, and how she plans to tackle unsolved crimes like that, with no suspects and very little information.

“That particular story, in fact, has been one of the priorities that I want to look into. See how the investigation was run, see if there’s anything I can shed light on and help further the investigation – assist with the investigation. See if there’s any resources I can bring to the table that I can help assist with that, but I need to look into it and see the nuances of the story, but it’s definitely in the forefront of one of the things I want to do initially.”

Murphy and two city officials I spoke to said they watched our Monday story. They all saw and heard what residents there want to see in their new chief. Their answer mirrored Murphy’s: Her boots need to be on the ground in the community, asking many of them how she can help.

“We need the community and the community needs us to react in a way they see fit. It goes back to getting into the community, letting them see me, develop that trust by showing that I care. Let’s get back to where we’re working together with the community, and the community sees us in a different light. The community has lost trust, and, for a lot of reasons, they’re right. I want to be a part of making that right again.”

According to Chief Murphy and the police communications director, one of her first orders of business will be to go into the College Hill Court Apartments and meet people face-to-face, thanks to our story on Monday.

Only one small issue…Officially, she is still a member of the Atlanta Police Department. She ends her tenure there at the end of the month.

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