STAMFORD, Conn. — Mayor David Martin announced today the appointment of Chris Murtha, Deputy Chief for Maryland’s Prince George’s County, as the new Police Chief for Stamford’s Police Department.
In his multi decade career in law enforcement and 20 years of experience at Prince George’s County, Chief Murtha has worked with diverse communities, overseen double-digit crime reduction numbers, commanded a bureau of over 1,000 officers and seven districts responsible for the safety of nearly 1 million residents across 500 square miles, and managed a department budget of $360 million. Murtha’s credentialed resume, strong relations with community leaders and consistent professionalism throughout the hiring process showed he was an ideal candidate to lead Stamford’s Police Department as Chief.
“I believe Chief Murtha will prove to be a phenomenal addition to our already impressive department,” said Mayor David Martin. “Stamford’s Police Department has a reputation for keeping Stamford the safest City in New England, maintaining positive community relations, and proactively taking advantage of new techniques and technologies to benefit our community. Deputy Chief Murtha’s career shows he shares the same values that have made our Police Department so successful, and he has faced the challenges that law enforcement confronts every day. I believe he is inheriting an exceptional department, incredible personnel, and I expect great things will come from his leadership of the fine men and women who make up Stamford’s Police Department.”
Chief Murtha, 53, will become the department’s 16th Police Chief since its inception. As the head of the Police Department, he will oversee 287 officers and staff. Chief Murtha succeeds Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau, a 38-year veteran who served as Chief for seven years and brought significant changes and improvements to the department through his leadership.
“Chief Murtha has the experience, values and professionalism Stamford demands from its Police Chief,” said Director of Public Safety Ted Jankowski. “He has played a key role in helping Prince George’s County reduce crime at an incredible rate and instrumental in bringing about positive change using technology, innovation, collaboration and communicating within the Prince George’s County Police Department. With his impressive track record of performance and the support of the brave men and women of the Stamford Police Department, I am confident he will excel in his role as Police Chief here in Stamford.”
Prior to serving as Deputy Chief, Murtha served in leadership roles for various units including Bureau of Patrol, District Station Command, Crime Scene Investigations Division, Special Operations Division, District Station Command, Bureau Command Special Services Section as well as Internal Affairs. Murtha has coordinated large-scale projects with outside agencies throughout his career including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the United States Secret Service.
“Chief Murtha has been a valued member of my command staff for his leadership and determination,” said Prince George’s County Police Chief Henry Stawinski. “He has earned my respect, and the respect of his peers, for his honor and commitment to accountability while serving this department. I have all the confidence his experience and character will serve him in his new role as Chief of the Stamford Police Department and I wish him the best.”
Murtha is a highly decorated law enforcement veteran with numerous awards. He was named Police Officer of the Year in 2004 and has received the Prince George’s County Departments Gold Medal of Valor and Silver Medal of Valor awards for outstanding service in the line of duty in the apprehension of individuals while experiencing direct gunfire. He has received Congressional recognition for outstanding and invaluable service to the community, and other awards for the professional and courageous actions displayed during incidents. During his service as an Internal Affairs Investigator, he worked with federal and local partners and proved instrumental in combatting corruption both within the department and in government.
The Prince George’s County Police Department consists of more than 1,600 police officers and 300 civilians provide a full range of enforcement services to the nearly 1 million residents in the area. It is a very diverse department, reflecting the diverse community it serves. Of the department’s 1,600 plus officers, 43% identify as Black, 44% identify as White, 10% identify as Hispanic or Latino and 3% identify as Asian. Throughout his career at Prince George’s County, Murtha has gained the respect and admiration of his fellow officers and the community.
“He has a very good reputation within the community, he’s very receptive and communicates issues well,” said President of Prince George’s County Branch for the NAACP Bob Ross. “He applies the principles of 21st Century Policing in his daily operations, which is the cornerstone for effective community policing and building trust between law enforcement and the community.”
“Chief Murtha has a positive relationship with the Latino, and Latino immigrant, community,” Latino Affairs Liaison for Prince George’s County Katina Rojas Joy said. “He is an individual who cares deeply about this community’s safety and well-being.”
“We have a good professional and pleasant relationship with Chief Murtha and the Prince George’s County Police Department,” said Rabbi of University of Maryland’s Chabad Jewish Center Eli Bachman. “They are proactive in providing for the safety of the Jewish community. The outreach and protection provided after the recent active shooter incidents at Jewish Temples elsewhere was impressive.”
“I have worked closely with Chief Murtha for many years promoting a safe and crime free community by developing crime reduction initiatives,” said President of the Suitland Crime Action Team Elsie Jacobs, a community leader in Prince George’s County. “Chief Murtha is community orientated and treats all those he encounters with respect. Together we have made great strides in reducing crime here in Prince George’s County.”
Murtha maintains family ties to the City of Stamford and Fairfield County. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of New Hampshire in Political Science and has completed executive education at the Senior Management Institute for Police while also attending various other schools, training seminars, workshops and classes. He began his law enforcement career in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and joined the Prince George’s County Police Department two years later where he worked his way up and achieved the ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain and Major prior to becoming Deputy Chief. In his career he has served as Patrol Supervisor, Investigator for Internal Affairs, Commander of Special Operations Division, Assistant Commander of District III Station, Commander of Crime Scene Investigations Division, Commander of District III, Operations Commander for Bureau of Patrol, and Executive Command Staff for Bureau of Patrol.
Stamford’s Police Chief Search began on January 4, one day after Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau announced his retirement. The Mayor assembled an advisory committee made-up of well-respected community leaders and members of the Mayor’s administration, including: Chair of the Police Commission Tim Abbazia, former President of Stamford’s NAACP Jack Bryant, Director of Public Safety Ted Jankowski, Executive Director for Building One Community Catalina Horak, resident and human resources professional Constance Hubbard, Director of Administration Michael Handler and former President of the Board of Representatives Randy Skigen. The committee contracted the Police Executive Research Forum to assemble a list of over 37 qualified applicants for consideration, including internal candidates from within Stamford’s Police Department. After discussions and further vetting, 11 were selected for interviews resulting in five candidates who were further interviewed by the committee, ultimately resulting in a recommendation to the Mayor to select Chief Murtha.
“As a group, we conducted an exhaustive search meeting with community and other partners while interviewing and vetting numerous candidates,” said Chair of the Police Commission Tim Abbazia. “The final determination of the committee was to present Chief Chris Murtha’s name forward to the Mayor for consideration as Stamford’s next Police Chief. We wish him all the best and success in his new position and are ready to support him as needed.”
The Stamford community and members of the press are welcome to meet Police Chief Murtha at a public reception held in the Mayor’s Conference Room at the Stamford Government Center, 10th floor, 888 Washington Boulevard at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12.