The Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy Award for Leading Change in Policing

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About the Award

Nominations are now CLOSED for this prestigious award.

The National Policing Institute is pleased to announce the creation of the Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy Award for Leading Change in Policing.

This national award from the 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.

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 that 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.

Nominations must have been received by October 5, 2022, for consideration.

Award Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply for the award?

The award is open to all law enforcement professionals, sworn or non-sworn, from federal, state, local, and tribal jurisdictions. Nominees may be active or retired.

Are self-nominations accepted?

Yes, self-nominations will be accepted.

Are international applicants welcome to apply?


Are post-humous nominations accepted?


When are nominations due?

Nominations must be submitted by 12:00 noon EDT, October 5, 2022.

What is required in the application?

Nominations will be accepted through an online form. The following items are required in the nomination form:

· Nominator contact information

· 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

How will the winner be selected?

The winner will be selected based on the leadership demonstrated by the nominee. The selection of an individual awardee does not necessarily indicate that the actions or positions taken by that individual are consistent with the official position or views of the National Policing Institute. Rather, it is the willingness and courage to lead change from within the profession that is recognized by this award. The award may be based on a single significant action or decision, or a series of actions or decisions. The National Policing Institute Board of Directors will review all nominations including supporting documentation received with the nomination form to make a determination.

When will the award be presented?

The award will be presented at the National Policing Institute’s fall convening which will take place in conjunction with the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference (IACP) in Dallas, Texas, October 15, 2022.

Does an individual have to be present to win?

No, but our preference is that they are present and the Institute will assist with travel.

What does the winner 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

If a nominee does not win, can they reapply?

Yes, any nominees not awarded may be resubmitted for consideration in the following selection cycle.

Will this be an annual award?

Yes, the award is intended to be given annually but is dependent upon receiving worthy nominees.

My question is not answered here, who can I contact?

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