Police Chief announces new review process for officers in Brady Letter accusations
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy announced today a process to review the cases of police officers who have been transferred due to accusations that they have mislead officials in various investigations.
She has been grappling with how to handle the officers named in the so-called Brady Letters.
“Brady Letters” are notices from the District Attorney’s Office to police agencies on officers the prosecutors feel may have mislead or misrepresented details in criminal investigations.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office had requested copies of the current officers who had gotten Brady Letters with CPD.
The Chief had decided to reassign the officers in question to remove any doubts on their objectivity or on future cases.
The number of officers have grown from the original 10 Bradly Letters.
Earlier today, a police union took aim at her moves:
“On August 23, 2020, the IBPO discovered there were two more Officers who were relieved of their sworn status by Chief Murphy. Chief Murphy continues to do so without any investigation or due process for these Officers. As a result of Chief Murphy’s decision making the Officers at CPD are continuing to lose confidence in her.
Vincent L Champion
Southeast Regional Director
National Association of Government Employees (NAGE)
International Brotherhood of Police Officers(IBPO)
The Police Department says none of the officers have actually been fired or demoted, just transferred.
This afternoon, the police department announced a new review process:
Mayor Tim Kelly, Police Chief Celeste Murphy, and employee representative groups have collaboratively reached a resolution to review the assignments of all Chattanooga Police Department officers who have previously sustained allegations of being less than truthful.
As part of the review process, each affected officer’s assignment will be evaluated by an internal committee made up of sworn officers of diverse ranks and roles. The evaluation criteria are currently being finalized in partnership with employee groups, but they are expected to include factors such as age of the violation, severity of the violation, disciplinary record since the violation, and the circumstances of the violation as determined by internal affairs.
Once their evaluation is complete, the review committee will issue a recommendation to Chief Murphy with one of three possible outcomes for the affected officer:
- Permanent reassignment to a non-enforcement role
- Restoration of responsibilities with special accommodations (for example, requiring the officer to wear a body camera at additional times or to team with an additional officer during patrol)
- Restoration of full responsibilities without special accommodations
Review committee members are still being finalized. The final decision on the outcome for the affected officer will rest with Chief Murphy.
This process will apply to all sworn officers who have had a sustained internal policy violation of being less than truthful prior to August 16, 2022 — a total of 15 officers, based on CPD’s final database audit of personnel records. All affected officers previously faced discipline for the internal policy violations at the time those allegations were sustained. As of August 17, 2022, any untruthfulness violation that is sustained will result in immediate termination.
“I fully support Chief Murphy’s decision to ensure the Chattanooga Police Department leads with integrity. I chose her for our Police Chief because she committed to me from the earliest part in the hiring process that she was going to set a high bar for professional standards in our department,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. “I also believe that we can make tough decisions that protect public safety and include trusted employee groups. I’m grateful that we were able to work together to create a productive path forward for the department and the officers involved.”
“This is not a decision I made lightly, and I know these changes have been extremely impactful to our department, which is why collaborating to find meaningful resolutions is so important,” said Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy. “I’m dedicated to upholding the department’s integrity in the eyes of the public, the eyes of our courts, and in the eyes of the brave men and women who selflessly serve their community.”
District Attorney-elect, Coty Wamp, has promised her own review of the officers in question when she takes office in September.