The chief gives up his gun

Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:04pm
By: Cal Beverly

On the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2007, Peachtree City Police Chief James Murray received a call to meet with City Manager Bernard McMullen at City Hall.

He was met inside by two uniformed and armed Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies — Lt. Col. Wayne Hannah and Capt. Bryan Woodie.

Accounts differ slightly at this point. One off-the-record account has Chief Murray surrendering his service weapon to Lt. Col. Hannah, who had — in another unprecedented event — accompanied Murray into the city manager’s office for a closed door meeting.

The official account is ambiguous on one point.

“The chief did not have to surrender his service weapon prior to the meeting,” according to an email response from the city’s public information officer, Betsy Tyler. “During a large portion of the meeting, only the city manager and the police chief were in the room. At no time was City Hall on lock-down or closed to the public. James Murray departed the meeting with his service weapon ...”

Mayor Harold Logsdon had only a slightly different version. “It was one of those things that you take a precaution because you don’t know how people will react. ... It was nothing more than just a precaution. It turned out we didn’t really need him (the deputy) anyway,” Logsdon said.

Murray’s attorney, Richard Lindsey, suggested the chief might have taken off his gunbelt once inside the office. “The chief has never told me that his service weapon was ever taken from him. Now did he take it off? I don’t know,” Lindsey said.

Whatever the disposition of Murray’s service weapon, he entered the room that early November afternoon with 18 years of authoritative service as Top Cop Number One in Fayette County’s largest city.

When Murray left the meeting less than one hour later, he may have had his weapon, but he was chief in name only, eight days away from extended terminal leave and fewer than eight weeks away from an official retirement date of Jan. 1, 2008. His months-long battle with City Manager McMullen was over, and the chief had lost.

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