Patrick V. Murphy Award

Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy Award for Leading Change in Policing

About the Award

This award, presented annually by the National Policing Institute, recognizes a policing executive or other sworn or unsworn law enforcement leader who has taken bold steps to improve, reform, or advance policing from within the profession. This individual may have risked unpopularity by boldly challenging the status quo and advanced the profession by implementing innovative approaches while leveraging or relying on science and research evidence.

The Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy Award for Leading Change in Policing will be presented to someone who has served in a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency in a sworn or unsworn (professional) capacity. They may be active or retired. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of five to seven years at an executive law enforcement level.

The award is given in recognition of the leadership demonstrated by the nominee.

Nomination Process

The award is presented annually to a true leader and may be based on a single significant action or decision, or a series of actions or decisions.

The nomination period for the 2023 award has closed. Award winners will be announced in September.

The following items are required in the nomination form:

  • Nominator contact information (self-nominations will be accepted, anonymous nominations will not be considered)
  • Nominee contact information
  • Narrative of why nominee should be considered for award. What bold steps has the nominee taken to improve, reform, or advance policing from within the profession? (max 300 words)

Additional items are optional and may be included in the nomination form:

  • Agency executive letter of acknowledgement and support for nomination
  • Links to supporting documents such as articles or reports
  • Letters of support
  • Resume, CV, or bio of nominee

Other information:

  • Open to all law enforcement professionals, sworn or non-sworn, from federal, state, local, and tribal jurisdictions. Nominees may be active or retired.
  • Individual must be living
  • Individual must reside in the United States

Contact information for nominees must be provided, and NPI may share submission materials and related information publicly (we will not share any private information).


Nominations will be presented to NPI's Board of Directors who select the awardee. The award will be presented at NPI’s annual Awards Reception held in conjunction with the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference.

The selection of an awardee does not necessarily indicate their actions or positions are consistent with the official position or views of the National Policing Institute. Instead, it is the willingness and courage to lead change from within the profession which is recognized by this award. Any nominees not awarded may be resubmitted for consideration in the following selection cycle.

Award Presentation

The winner will be presented at an award reception held in conjunction with the IACP Annual Conference. The winner will receive a physical award plus a choice of one of the following:

  1. Travel support to the event
  2. $5,000 cash award
  3. Designation of the award to a charity of the winners choice

An individual does not need to be present to win, though preference is that they are present and NPI will assist with travel.

About Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy

Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy (ret.) served as the top police executive in multiple jurisdictions, including New York City, New York; Detroit, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; and Syracuse, New York, and served within the U.S. Department of Justice. He subsequently led the Police Foundation (predecessor of the National Policing Institute) as its second president from 1973-1985.

Commissioner Murphy addressed systemic corruption and led major reforms that foreshadowed an era of community and neighborhood policing. Based on these actions, he earned a reputation as a bold reformer who encouraged and used research to challenge the status quo from within the profession. He has been described as “perhaps the most influential police leader over the past half-century” and remembered for controversial but significant changes which proved to be ahead of their time. Examples of advancements included ordering officers not to shoot at looters during the civil unrest of the late 1960s in Washington, D.C., effectively challenging permissive use of force policies decades prior to Tennessee v. Garner (1985). He also used his national prominence to push for greater education and training of police officers.

In praise of Commissioner Murphy, former NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton was quoted in the New York Times as saying: “In a profession that has very few giants, it is safe to say [Murphy] was a giant in policing.” Commissioner Murphy, in his book Commissioner and elsewhere, reflected on leading change and the resentment often faced as a result by noting that reformers do not seek these changes because they dislike policing or police officers but rather because of their love for the profession.

2022 Award Honoree: Darrel Stephens