San Luis Obispo Sheriff deputy’s Playboy rebuttal

December 21, 2010

Darren Murphy


A San Luis Obispo Sheriff deputy accused of an unconstitutional raid of an Atascadero man’s home and gun safe in 2008 has chosen the December issue of Playboy magazine to make his first public comments.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Murphy broke his silence in the “Forum” section of the men’s magazine, saying a 23-minute video produced by Central Coast News Agency and posted on caused him to be “maligned online.”

Comments made in the video by Murphy and a handful of acquiescent associates were captured on their own vehicle recorders; viewers hear and see the deputies manufacturing cause to enter the home, then a gun safe, and then colluding to bring a packet of bogus charges against the homeowner, Matt Hart.

“The Hart Locker: SLO Sheriff Sacking the Fourth Amendment” has been viewed by more than 2.8 million people worldwide. Murphy’s letter to Playboy has created new national interest in the documentary, and has been receiving dozens of comments from viewers across the nation.

Neither Murphy nor his department supervisors have ever commented on the video for San Luis Obispo County consumption.

In the “Forum” section of the magazine under the heading “Can The Camera Lie?” Murphy writes:

“As a 27-year veteran of street patrol work, I am encouraged by Martin Prieb’s observations in August (“Life on Camera”) about the ambiguity cops face every day. This past summer a website posted squad-car footage taken two years ago during my arrest of a man in an incident involving the use of a firearm.

“This selectively edited footage caused me to be maligned online. When our department installed dashboard cameras 25 years ago, I was one of the few deputies in favor of ‘the sergeant in the trunk,’ telling my co-workers it could save their ass.

“Now I’m not so sure. Society has every right to expect officers to perform their duties in a lawful manner. But when the citizenry uses tools intended to protect all parties to wrongfully attack officers, the incentive to put your ass on the line is greatly diminished. A society that makes war with its police had better make friends with its criminals. Darren Murphy, Atascadero, California.”

The Playboy editors responded: “You can view the edited footage of the arrest at The commentators focus on the constitutionality of Murphy and his fellow deputies entering the suspect’s home after arresting him in the front yard.”

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The ongoing and ever disgusting saga of the SLO county sheriffs department is testimony to the accuracy of the radicals of the 60’s (myself included) calling these guys PIGS.

As an adult you should be cautious about painting all police officers with the same brush. As for you needing to justify your stance during the 60’s, exactly what did the police do that warranted your slur?

You wouldn’t happen to be in any way connected with law enforcement, would you?

Not all officers are like Murphy but…many of them do not realize they flush just like we do…

JackL. Something about your point where you say that Matt Hart “did not yield” causes me to take notice. That statement sounds military and is bothersome. I agree and have always thought that Matt Hart was an idiot when he told the officer that he was going to reach for his cell phone with two fingers. As if he really thought that they were going to allow him to call his attorney while they held him at gun point with his hands in the air, but he made it clear that, that is what he was doing. People are people, and yes Matt Hart “didn’t yield” when he clearly announced his intention and then slowly reached to his cell phone that was attached to his waist and clearly visible considering that it was daylight. That is perhaps the only thing he did wrong in my opinion. He was in an area and owned the appropriate acreage to target shot his 22 rifle which is exactly what he was doing and had done many times in the past.

You claim that he had a history but his history was legally target practicing on his property. This entire fiasco stinks from beginning to end.

You make good points. The main idea I was getting across is education for the public; No matter what we may think is right or wrong with a situation, failure to yield and comply with law enforement commands can get you arrested and/or killed. Even though it may really upset you/me/us, that’s how the system works. The time for disagreeing with what took place comes after the incident, not during. That will lead to one or more negative effects and you just dug a deeper hole in real time for yourself. Later you may very well succeed in defending yourself in court. There is a reason law enforement has greater latitudes than a citizen does. It is to protect their safety and our safety as well.

By the way, gun laws can be complicated. While it is often legal to shoot on your county unincorporated area acreage, it often depends on what type of weapon you are using. Many areas have distence to nearest residence (neighbor) laws. You may shoot a shot gun for instance if your nearest neighbor is 1000 feet from the site of weapon discharge, but not a rifle or handgun that can travel much further unless you are at least 5,000 feet from the nearest residence (neighbor). That is the law in Washoe County, Nevada for instance. Know your counties gun laws and enjoy your tactical training and target practice.


The more I think about Darren Murphy and his now infamous quote; “A society that makes war with its police had better make friends with its criminals. Darren Murphy, Atascadero, California.”, the more I realize he is a part of the ‘old school’ of LE. No doubt he had a stressful career and who knows what his personal life was like. But the bottom line is LE needs to get out of the ‘old school’ mentally they were once protected by and used to and become apart of the changing times. If a LEO can’t cut the mustard regarding the changing times and the training and mindset it now takes, they they need to be let out to pasture. No offence to the LEO’s out there who are at the end of their careers but it’s time for the new generation of LE to step in and bring dignity and excellence under pressure to the profession that we often rely on.

We are all under the microscope these days and need to be held accountable.

I am not so sure that the problem is an “old school” mentality. In my local PD, the attitude problems seen to be more prevalent in the younger cops while the older ones tend to use more good judgment in handling situations. I suspect that it is less age-related than just a “us vs. them” or “might makes right” mentality that can be found in LEO minds of any age. In fact, with the high number of new cops coming from the military (or so I’ve heard),

I sometimes wonder if it’s trained into them at whatever academy they went too or perhaps it was adopted from whichever older officer with which they happened to pair as a rookie. It could also be a hold-over attitude from military training as I’ve heard that a high percentage of new cops are coming right out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Or, it could just be a character defect that is not caught by the psych evaluations prior to hiring.

Whatever it is, I think that strong leadership with an emphasis on working with citizens (all of us — not just the rich and powerful) is needed in all LEO organizations. I can only hope that Mr. Parkinson is willing and able to provide such guidance and set firm standards for LEO behavior as the new Sheriff.

I know that there are good Deputies out there — my limited experience with them in South County was positive. But a culture of disdain for the average citizen can grow like a cancer in a department if not checked. A citizenry at odds with power-mad cops has other options beside making “friends with its criminals”. There is still some citizen control over local politics and the LEO budgets. If the cancer spreads to the point where enough people are affected by it, that is where the point of attack will be. When cops become above the law (i.e. criminals), it is time for us to stop funding their egos.

You have brought to light some interesting points. I certainly agree with your ‘strong leadership’ comment. If the Sheriff was to demand a certain level of professionalism and projection of a friendly public image in briefings and training, that would make a big difference. And by that I mean not just the friendly face at a booth at a yearly celebration event held for the public but also during calls, while cruising, and off duty as well. If LE can carry a concealed weapon off duty, they certainly should be able to carry a positive heartfelt message off duty as well. Their job does not stop when they go off duty, that’s why the carry concealed.

Regarding public image of local LE. One only has to read these posts to see the majority are distrustful if not enraged with this call and those that participated. If this was a classic constitutional rights violation, where is the reprimand for it? The ‘Blue’ code often protects it’s own even when the discretion is legally obvious. I see anger and lack of respect from those on this forum that posted a note. Why is that? In my thinking it’s because of their experience with LE.

It may not be age related but ‘burn out’ is prevalent in many end of career LEO’s.

If you want to get up to speed on this incident, go here and be prepared to read: There is over 1300 postings on this thread, and it is going to get a lot longer now that this has come to light. I sure wish Judge Napalitano would pick this story up and run with it.

Now, since Parkinson won the sheriffs election, the good old boys club will just continue to sweep this under the rug. Nothing is going to change and the citizens of this county are going to reap what they have sewn.


I live where this happened. After reading Darren Murphy’s comments, I’m not sure he understands what was unappetizing about his actions. His statement “A society that makes war with its police had better make friends with its criminals. Darren Murphy, Atascadero, California.” is alarming to me. I do not consider in any way we here in this county made war with LE. What I see is this was one of the first times citizens of this county and many other areas of the USA actually got to see how LE works at times. Many LEO’s are not used to being scrutinized for their over the top or gray area actions. There was a saying used by some LEO’s; ‘arrest them all and let the DA sort it out’. I support our LEO’s in our county as most do. But it’s time for education concerning the brave new world and how it is changing. We, the citizens will become the first line of homeland security with our eyes, ears and guns like it already is in countries like Israel. In fact, homeland security courses are now available by many private instructors here in the USA. Myself, I am taking a four day class this spring.

I would like to point out that the person who was arrested did not act appropriately in my opinion and he was lucky not to have been shot when reaching in his pocket. The man did have a history with LE already. This needs to be in the equation. With that in mind you can see how some of the LEO’s were hyped up with adrenalin, especially since firearms/shooting calls are not a daily encounter here on the central coast.

It’s a brave new world. LE and citizens alike need to be trained in the changing times. Do not over react, do not under react. It’s not so simple but it what we should be training for.

I worked alongside LE in this county during my career. Most of these men and women are real good people in a tough job. My closing comment will have to reiterate that LEO’s and citizens need more advanced training on the changing times we live in. Our vision and understanding of ‘the now’ and ‘the future’ needs to be incorporated into our daily lives. This may be a bit harder here in CA where many citizens are indoctrinated into thinking guns are bad and so is anyone who has one, buys one, buys ammunition, etc.

For those that have not seen this article of the incident (link below), it is worth your time. It’s a differnt take on the incident.

Jack glad to see you are thinking as you say in your second post.

As for the one directly above, tell me what the victim did wrong? Has he been convicted of anything?

Seems these men were caught on tape colluding to break the law. What charges have been brought against them? None. The DA won’t act, he says as reported on CCN before, unless there is a law enforcement report on his desk. Has there been a report filed against these officers? Didn’t think so.

The Tribune is as much a problem as anything else. We are not free unless our press is free.

On another note, time for Mr. Murphy to resign, but I am sure he will wait until he is in a position to double dip.

The so called victim did not appropriately yield and follow LE’s instructions. That in itself is a crime (regardless if you have violated at law up to that point or not). I did read the man was charged with a misdemeanor. You may be able to elaborate on that?

Playboy? Is he 15???? Like that doesn’t reflect on and example his poor decision making abilities?

The guy did what he did and on camera for all to see. Dan Blackburn has done and excellent job in reporting this continuous story. When I watched the video on KCCN.TV I didn’t see society making war with it’s police, I saw law enforcement make war against society’s constitutional rights. Did I blink and miss this?

Remember the TV show Dragnet?

Joe Friday responds to a problem they had with a bad cop in the L.A.P.D…… Sergeant Joe Friday says; “When you have to recruit from the human race, you’re going to get a few bad apples”.

What are the odds that several of those “few bad apples” landed in our SLO Sheriff’s office?

Murphy and his crew need to be arrested, tried, convicted and sent to the slam.

Get on it, Ian…

Ian wouldn’t do anything about this issue or many to face him in the next four years. He’s made too many promises Murphy was and is a big supporter of Ian’s.

Um…was he naked when he put his foot in his mouth?

racket !!! – LOL

Probably needed alot of lotion to get his foot out of his mouth….ahem…

““”A society that makes war with its police had better make friends with its criminals. Darren Murphy, Atascadero, California.”””

Grant it bad guys are very clever, but in this abusive era from both sides “The enemy of my other enemy is my best friend (not in every case of course)” for the time being.

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