Detective is a force to be reckoned with
Resilient Cop solves wild crimes
Detective Paul Murphy enjoys catching criminals to keep the peace in the San Ramon Valley.
For his work, dedication and passion, the Danville Police Department recently named Murphy, 35, as the 2006 Officer of the Year. Police said his investigative work has helped reduce crime in Danville and close many cases.
"I don't work here to put plaques on the wall," Murphy said. "I don't like attention. I do what I do because I like doing it."
"I like the challenges of doing something different," he added. "No two days are alike."
Murphy has helped crack down on identity theft and credit card fraud, close a child molestation case, and nab a disgruntled worker who vandalized his employer's home in Danville.
"He's one of those individuals that enjoys his job," said Danville Police Chief Chris Wenzel. "Besides being a detective, he will work overtime and work on the streets."
Murphy said he caught an angry employee between the ages of 20 and 30 from San Joaquin County who shot a BB gun at his boss's home in Danville. However, he accidentally hit the home of his employer's neighbor. He then wrote a letter of apology to the neighbor, Murphy said.
In addition, the worker allegedly constructed a pipe bomb and threw it at the home of his employer's brother in Tracy. But the brother had moved out of his house at the time. Instead, he threw it over the head of the brother's daughter.
"Luckily, the pipe bomb didn't go off," Murphy said.
Moreover, when his employer refused to give him his job back at the office, he induced himself to vomit on the carpet.
After receiving a call from the employer and conducting an investigation, police served a search warrant at the worker's home and found he had maps of his employer's homes and bomb materials, Murphy said, adding that the worker wrote on his bathroom wall with a black marker. Police arrested and charged him for carrying bomb making materials and assault with a deadly weapon.
Murphy also helped follow up and close a child molestation case, which was reported by a 17-year-old male in Danville. An uncle and grandfather sexually molested the youth when he was from 12 to 14 years old. The police officers received the report last year from a medical professional, and they got confessions from the uncle and grandfather about committing the crimes.
Murphy said the victim, as much as he could be expected, was doing fine.
There is a rough total of five to six alleged sexual assault-related cases each year in Danville, he said.
Murphy also recalled an incident where a 22-year-old made fake calls to the police about a young woman being beaten with a flashlight near San Ramon Valley High School. Additionally, he told police that she may have been kidnapped.
Murphy said the suspect gave this same story to police departments in several cities, including Dublin, Concord and Oakland, as well as in Reno.
"He basically goes around the Bay Area and Reno, Nev., and calls about the same incident," Murphy said. "It's always about someone being attacked and some sort of kidnapping."
When the young man called the police to describe his prior made-up incidents, he gave them his license plate number and descriptions of himself, such as a white male wearing blue jeans and a red shirt.
One time in Dublin, after contacting the police, he came down from his apartment, met them as they were responding to his call, and denied ever calling them.
"It was very bizarre," said Murphy, adding that the suspect also went to auto body shops carrying books about drugs. When he was asked about why he had those books, he responded by lying that he was a parole agent who needed to understand substances.
Murphy said he collected all the dispatch tapes involving the 22-year-old, and he eventually was able to find him.
"He's fascinating," he said, noting that such off-the-wall incidents occur infrequently.
"It happens in a blue moon," he added.
Murphy speculated that he might have enjoyed the thrill of having the police show up as a result of his phony calls.
In another case, Murphy identified a Danville girl who was a delivery person for a daily newspaper for being involved in stealing property, auto burglaries and identity thefts.
Murphy said he saw her on a surveillance tape writing a check that was declined in a Safeway in Clayton. He discovered that she and her boyfriend and friends would go around and steal property in the community.
"He enjoys putting people in jail," said Wenzel, about Murphy.
Murphy grew up in Concord. In college, he took courses in criminal justice and found it interesting. He went to Diablo Valley College for two years and then transferred to Sacramento State University majoring in criminal justice. He started out working in insurance claims to get himself established, but he knew he wanted to work in law enforcement.
"It's something new," he said "I really enjoyed it."
He said honesty and being upfront is best way to communicate with people.
"I like calling it as I see it," he said. "Honesty goes far."
After leaving the insurance industry, Murphy trained at the police academy with his friend Danville Officer Mike Ireland.
Murphy worked at the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office before being assigned to Danville in 2000. He was promoted to detective in 2005.
Contact Jordan M. Doronila at jdoronila@DanvilleWeekly.com