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MPD chief meets with mayor during leave of absence

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Mayor Strange speaking to WSFA 12 News at ASF on Thursday (Source: WSFA 12 News) Mayor Strange speaking to WSFA 12 News at ASF on Thursday (Source: WSFA 12 News)
MPD Chief Kevin Murphy (Source: WSFA 12 News) MPD Chief Kevin Murphy (Source: WSFA 12 News)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy, who is on a leave of absence following the death of his twin brother, returned to Montgomery for his first face-to-face meeting with the mayor and public safety director Friday.

Public Safety Director Chris Murphy, of no relation to Kevin Murphy, confirmed the chief's leave Wednesday.

"(Kevin) Murphy has gone through a significant tragedy," Director Murphy said. "The mayor has given him extensive time off to be with his family and recoup from what's go on."

During Kevin Murphy's leave, rumors and misinformation have surfaced, questioning if he would return to the force at all.

Mayor Todd Strange described the highly anticipated meeting Friday as difficult and emotional.

"It's horrible, but you still have to deal with, and we are trying to deal with it as best we know how," Strange said.

This likely marks one of the most trying issues Strange has encountered during his time in office. The difficulty stems from poor timing. Strange says issues involving Kevin Murphy's leadership and the department were raised before Murphy's family was struck with the loss of the chief's brother.

"Prior to this tragedy there had been some specific situations that were brought to my attention. As I have said to Kevin that, in his time, we need to have a conversation, and once we have the conversation and make a determination as to the future for Kevin and the Montgomery Police Department, then we'll take action on the issues that are on the table right now," Strange said Thursday.

After Murphy took a leave of absence, the allegations and calls intensified.

"There's been a number of people not only calling here, calling the police department, calling the director's office. We are trying to simulate and sort out what's malicious and what is fact," Strange said.

This set the stage for Strange's first meeting with a grief-stricken police chief. While the timing was almost unbearable, Strange says the tough discussion was unavoidable,

"It was a difficult discussion. It was a frank discussion. We certainly did not get into all details, it was not appropriate to get into all details. He has a realistic assessment in a summary fashion of what we've been dealing with over the last few weeks," Strange said.

After the meeting, Strange briefed rank and file members of MPD, attempting to curb uncertainty and boost the currently low morale.

"They were somber, but resolute in the fact that they have a job to do," Strange said.

The mayor said his office continues to look into allegations and findings that are brought to his attention. He expects the city's personnel department to turn over its findings from multiple investigations early next week.

As for resolution for the Montgomery Police Department, Strange says the ball is in Murphy's court. He expects to hear from him about his future in the coming days.

Acting Chief John Brown is managing the day-to-day operations in Murphy's absence.

Chief Murphy's brother, Patrick Murphy, is the focus of a death investigation, which came the day after he was arrested on felony leaving the scene of an accident. 

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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