By Camm Ashford
Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy last Wednesday announced the reassignment of 10 officers after they “misrepresented the truth or filed a false report.”
The officers have been reassigned to non-enforcement positions and will no longer be allowed to testify in court.
Chief Murphy said previous department policies treated falsehoods differently than misrepresentations. But going forward, all persistent allegations related to falsehoods will be subject to “immediate termination.”
Chief Murphy said in a statement, “Chattanooga residents, our fellow CPD (Chattanooga Police Department) officers, as well as the state and federal prosecutors who present these cases should have full confidence that officers who investigate crimes, apprehend suspects, and testify in court uphold the highest standards of integrity. It is unacceptable that a case could be jeopardized due to an integrity issue with an officer who was found to have previously misrepresented the truth or filed a false report.”
The reassignments came after the U.S. Attorney’s office requested a list from CPD of officers with allegations of misrepresentation or untruthfulness. CPD said Chief Murphy complied with the request and a list of the officers was given to federal and state prosecutors.
“The internal affairs investigations at issue were related to internal policy violations, and none of the affected officers are accused of misrepresentation in a court of law,” Chief Murphy said. “However, whenever an internal affairs investigation finds that an officer has, in the course of their duties, been less than truthful, it can call into question the integrity of their testimony in court, jeopardizing a prosecutor’s ability to obtain a conviction. Because of the sensitivity of this matter and out of respect for our officers, we will have no further comment on this issue.”
CPD did not name the officers involved or what they were specifically accused of, but it could be as simple as a typo or as serious as withholding information from prosecutors.
Chief Murphy said the 10 officers she reassigned were already subject to internal investigations finding them guilty of misrepresentation or untruthfulness, but they remained on the force. However, she explained that none of the officers were accused of misrepresentation in court.
“These officers have not been terminated or demoted,” Chief Murphy said in a news release from department spokesperson, Assistant Chief Jerri Sutton.
At press time, local community activists and a handful of police unions and nonprofit advocacy organizations have pushed back on Chief Murphy’s decision.