2022 Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy Leading Change in Policing Award Honoree
“Throughout his career, Commissioner Murphy was an effective leader at identifying areas of the law enforcement profession that needed to be examined: creating a more diverse police force, reducing corruption, and better relationships with the communities being served. Commissioner Murphy felt an obligation to the law enforcement profession to improve it and the courage to make it happen.”
Darrel Stephens is an accomplished police executive with more than 50 years of experience in law enforcement and in industry leadership roles.
Stephens began his policing career in 1968 as an officer in the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. He quickly climbed the ranks and eventually became a Commander. After leaving the department in 1976, Stephens served as the Assistant Chief of the Lawrence (Kansas) Police Department until 1979. His career in law enforcement continued when he became the Chief of Police for the Largo Police Department in Florida from 1979 to 1983. Following his tenure, he continued leading other departments, including Newport News Police Department in Virginia, St. Petersburg Police Department in Florida, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina.
In addition to Stephens' 22 years of executive leadership in law enforcement, he served as the Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) from 1986 to 1992, as the Executive Director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), and as an Advisor to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. As the Executive Director of the MCCA, Stephen co-founded MCCA’s Police Executive Leadership Institute (PELI), credited with nearly 200 graduates as of 2022.
Throughout his career, Stephens has championed strategic technology investments to enhance law enforcement productivity and advanced innovative approaches to policing. He is currently the Co-Director of the Policing, Security Technology, and Private Security Research and Policy Institute in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University. He is also the CEO of the Darrel Stephens Group, LLC., and works with a wide variety of organizations providing a range of consulting services.
As a nationally recognized expert on policing innovation, Stephens has written extensively on policing and served as a consultant and speaker promoting progressive policing approaches. He received PERF's Leadership Award and was elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in 2005. In 2006, Stephens was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Central Missouri State University. In 2010, he was inducted into the Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame and received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Evidence-Based Crime Policy, presented by George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy. In 2017, he received the Sir Robert Peel Medal for Evidence-Based Policing from the Police Executive Program at Cambridge University. He also received MCCA's 2017 Leadership Award.
Stephens’ long list of accomplishments showcases his impact on policing and demonstrates his leadership in the industry. Like Patrick V. Murphy, Stephens' leadership extends far beyond the positions he held. He has continuously challenged the status quo in many areas of policing, including agency consolidation, the use of civilians in law enforcement, policies, training, and research regarding the use of force, police leadership development, including overall training and education, and has strongly advocated for the adoption and use of problem-oriented policing (POP). Colleague Dr. Gary Cordner aptly describes Stephens as “one of the leading figures in strategic, smarter policing.”
Darrel Stephens has (and continues) to demonstrate the courage to lead. Stephens was nominated by MCCA's Executive Director Laura Cooper for the 2022 Patrick V. Murphy Award for Leading Change in Policing.
“I was fortunate to meet Pat early in my career, and he took an interest in me and my growth as an officer and leader. To be recognized with an award named after a man whose courage to bring change to policing has made such an impact on the profession is an honor. To be recognized with an award named after my mentor and friend is truly special.”