Bill Murray, the town of Vienna Police Department’s first public information officer is scheduled to retire July 1.
“I have been with the department for 23 years and I still get ribbed about my name to this day,” said Murray, 48.
“I once received a movie script in the mail from a woman who assumed I was that other guy,” he said. “I first thought it was a prank, but it wasn’t. It had a really nice note attached to it that asked if I could please read it and give my opinion.”
Although not “that other guy,” Murray has had his share of excitement.
Murray was born in Germany in 1964, and his family moved to Vienna in 1969. He attended local schools, including James Madison High School.
While a student there, he became interested in drawing and drafting.
“I used to work with a t-square,” he said. “That was way before anyone really knew much about computers.”
The drafting got him involved in electronics, eventually landing him a job assembling circuit boards for large public address and concert speaker systems.
“The night I graduated high school, I boarded a plane and flew to Austin, Texas, to work for a sound contractor there,” he said. “I stayed in Austin a few years and then came back to Vienna, which has always been home for me.”
After returning, Murray soon set up shop for himself as an electronics sound man and also began volunteering his time with the Vienna Fire Department.
“Through some contacts there I learned that the Vienna Police Department was hiring,” he said. “I loved working for myself in electronics, but I had already met my wife by then, and I felt like it was time to do some work that was a little steadier in terms of income.”
Murray began working for the police department in 1989.
“He was a hometown boy who had grown up in Vienna,” Police Chief Bob Carlisle said. “It turned out very well because he is well-thought of today, and is looked up to by everyone in the department.”
Early on, Murray became part of the Vienna Police Department’s motorcycle division.
Officer Mike Oliver, who rode with Murray for several years in that division, said many aspects of Murray’s prankster personality became evident during that time.
“I remember riding alongside him, both of us on motorcycles, and he reached over and disconnected my spark-plug wire,” Oliver said. “I thought, ‘OK, I’ll just put it right back’ not realizing that it was still live and not insulated. I got quite a jolt —and Bill just laughed himself silly. He thought that was the funniest thing.”
While still remaining employed by the town, Murray became an instructor at the Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy, where other aspects of his personality soon emerged.
“He wore many hats and wore them all well,” said Jewel Longerbeam, who worked with Murray for nearly six years. “He had an incredible work ethic.”
Murray said during his time at the academy, he saw a large number of young military veterans returning from the Gulf War who signed up to become law enforcement cadets.
“I would see these guys come in very young and green,” he said. “I would help to train them and watch them grow both as cadets and as people. I guess I matured a little myself right alongside them.”
In 2006, Murray became the police department’s first public information officer.
“We had a huge void in the public communications arena,” Carlisle said. “Law enforcement did not always have a great relationship with the media, and we also needed one person within the department that the public could call into and get information. Bill was our choice for that.”
Murray said he got a little ribbing at first, not because of his name but because he once rode motorcycles.
“Motorcycle cops are not generally thought of as being the most gifted of writers,” he said. “I had to prove myself.”
According to Carlisle, he did just that.
“I had no idea how good a writer he was,” Carlisle said. “He really can be credited with humanizing our police reports and paving the way for the PIO position as it stands today. I really am sad to see him go, but I think he has done such a good job at establishing the PIO template for our department that it will be an easy transition for his replacement, Gary Lose.”