Chief of Police, Chattanooga Police Department
A passion for people and protecting the vulnerable is at the heart of Chattanooga Chief of Police Celeste Murphy’s service in law enforcement.
Police dramas and documentaries inspired Chief Murphy to pursue a career as a police officer with the Atlanta Police Department, where she rose in rank for 25 years before becoming Chief of Police for the Chattanooga Police Department in April 2022. “Becoming Chief of Police is a dream come true, as I’ve worked my entire career for this moment. I have a passion for people, and working in law enforcement allows me to touch families and change lives,” she shares.
In 2020, only 13.1% of full-time law enforcement officers were female. The number of women in law enforcement leadership is even smaller – 8.3% of all Chiefs of Police are women. Chief Murphy believes the women who make up these percentages bring valuable insight to the cities they serve: “Representation matters, and women are needed in law enforcement to bring perspective.” She reflects on her growth as a woman in law enforcement, sharing, “I used to work to be better than my male counterparts. Now, I work to better myself.”
Chief Murphy is encouraged and inspired by colleagues who are defying statistics and forging new paths in law enforcement leadership: “I stand on the shoulders of so many women, including my dear friend DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox, Atlanta’s first female chief, Beverly Harvard, and Atlanta’s first female LGBTQ+ chief, Erika Shields, just to name a few.”
As she looks forward to her first year as Chief of Police, Chief Murphy hopes to lead the Chattanooga Police Department to “be a progressive, professional, personable, and polite police department.” She wants to dispel the notion that “police are only working a job” and show the community that, including herself, “Many are here because they care about people.” Chief Murphy hopes to see more women enter the law enforcement field with this authentic care for others, offering wisdom to women who are considering a career as a police officer, or any position they are passionate about: “Work hard to better yourself and go after what you want. But make sure it’s all for the right reasons.”