As someone who works in the law enforcement field I have always found Karrin Murphy to be an interesting character and someone who is easily relatable. While some have a hard time understanding her mindset it is pretty easy for me because I deal with the same mindset every day. When some people see suspicious activity I see just the usual police mindset. Let me take a moment to discuss a few things about Karrin that comes out to me. First is the fact that from the first short story to storm front we see Karrin move from a regular beat cop on patrol to Captain Murphy of her down division. For those who do not know how rank works in the police departments here is a brief scale:
Field Training Officer
My guess is that with Karrin’s rank she was bumped up to head special investigation and probably skipped some ranks in between, which can often happen. For example an officer who goes to run the city jail in my department becomes a Sergeant because of the new responsibility and heading a department, skipping many of the traditional patrol ranks. The question of why Murphy was bumped was never answered but it absolutely part of police culture for a family legacy such as Murphy to be protected to a certain extent. Many families have a long history of military or police work and when you grow up with it you become more used to it, you also become more and more of a family. Even now I see how Murphy comes to the aid of her fellow officers or even more front and center is how they guard her, even after her drumming out of the force. One inconsistency in the firing of Karrin Murphy is that since the 1980’s the Chicago police department has been highly unionized. Without knowing her previous record as an officer or issues she may have had it is hard for me to say that she would have been possibly fired for the offense that was committed. Usually the union does have the backs and defense of officers who work hard and in most cities they are also covered by a civil service commission that would also be brought in.
During police work and after there are an incredibly high percentage of officers who find themselves in some sort of mental distress. This is pointed out well in her episode with alcohol and valium. Studies have found that female officers are 23% more likely to contemplate suicide and 25% more likely to have a heart attack than a normal female. Not only is Karrin dealing with these stresses but also the stress of being best friends and hopefully lovers with one of the most powerful wizards in the world. In Skin Game we see Karrin try and save the day and break one of the swords of the cross, during most police training we are trained to respond and neutralize the threat to innocents before we consider anything else- in my mind this is what she was doing. I believe Karrin was a superbly well written police officer who has a plethora of issues that she is dealing with all while saving the world. Mr. Butcher does an great job of showing her not just as a wall and a silent police officer but as someone who makes mistakes, has real issues and problems and is a true three dimensional person.