ELPD chief reflects on 30 years of service
Fresh out of the police academy, a 21-year-old Jeff Murphy moved to East Lansing to join the police force and expected to stay for a short amount of time. Thirty years and several job titles later, Chief of Police Jeff Murphy was honored in February for three decades worth of service to the city of East Lansing.
Murphy said it is easy to move around to different departments and cities within the police force.
“It’s because of East Lansing that I stayed, it’s a good place to work,” Murphy said. “At the police department, we kind of pride ourselves on, once we get an employee, it’s not real often that they leave for something else.”
East Lansing became home to him, Murphy said.
Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier said she has taken note of Murphy’s affection for the city.
Beier recounted memories of running into Murphy during his time off and hanging out with his family in East Lansing. Beier said he is thinking of the city 24 hours day.
“He always wants to talk about an issue: what’s going on, what do I think, how can things get better,” Beier said. “That’s just the way he thinks, that’s what he does. I’m sure it is a job and a career, but it’s not just a career to him. It seems like this is what he truly believes in.”
Murphy has worked in nearly every department within the police force.
“The most rewarding thing I’ve probably done for myself is, for the last year and a half, the chief,” he said. “As the chief you really can have, depending on how you do it, a very negative or a very positive influence on the people you serve, the department and especially the employees.”
Murphy said while there isn’t a lot of exciting police activity going on one might dream of in the police academy, the department deals with serious enough of instances that make it an interesting place to work.
Murphy reflected on the pivotal moment that changed the way he looked at the work he did forever. Following MSU’s loss to Duke University in the 1999 Final Four basketball game, Murphy recalled a night filled with anarchy.
“That one event showed, given the perfect storm: a nice night, a big game and the right time of year, it showed how out of control things could get,” Murphy said. “I remember thinking, ‘How could things be this bad? This is a peaceful, midwest college town.’ It looked like a war zone on that night.”
After that night, Murphy’s outlook on East Lansing shifted.
“That changed the way that I looked at a lot of different things because that riot was so bad and caused so many injuries and so much damage,” he said. “It didn’t even feel like I was working in the same city.”
Capt. Larry Sparkes was hired months after Murphy and the two have experienced their careers simultaneously.
Sparkes works closely with Murphy and said he applauds his ability to make sound decisions based on gathering the facts and input from the people who work for him.