Patrick V. Murphy, 91, who battled police corruption and urged officers to hold their fire as head of the New York, Detroit, and Washington forces during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, died of a heart attack Friday at a hospital in Wilmington, N.C.
"Pat Murphy was the visionary embodiment of police reform," New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a written statement. "In the face of fierce opposition from entrenched police leadership nationally, he revolutionized policy to restrain the use of deadly force."
Mr. Murphy was born in Brooklyn and became a police patrolman after serving as a Navy pilot in World War II. He rose through the ranks of the NYPD, then left to become the top police official in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1962. He later headed the forces in Washington and Detroit.
He became known as a fighter against corruption and police brutality.
"If you were a big-city mayor with a slightly berserk police department on your hands, there was one preferred remedy. You hired Patrick V. Murphy for your chief," Washington Post reporter James Lardner wrote in 1978.
In 1968, Mr. Murphy ordered police not to shoot at looters during the riots that wracked Washington following the killing of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
New York Mayor John Lindsay brought in Mr. Murphy in 1970 to clean up the NYPD after police whistle-blowers Frank Serpico and David Durk rocked the force with allegations of rampant graft.