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Ga. chief resigns over queries about online chats

By Kathy Jefcoats
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. — A Peachtree City police chief who gained national attention for using the Internet to bring down child sexual predators decided to retire when confronted with his own city computer use, his attorney said.

Former Chief Jim Murray ended his term when city officials confronted him in November about his online chats. His resignation took effect Jan. 1.

"He was not accused, but confronted," said Murray's attorney, Rick Lindsey. "He's like any other man, and when it came to a certain point, he said, 'I'm done.' "

Murray could not be reached for comment. His Peachtree City home is for sale, and he has moved out of state to a home he bought for his retirement, Lindsey said.

Lindsey said Murray used his city-owned computer to chat online with women during an ongoing investigation into local massage parlors used as fronts for prostitution. All the department's computers, except for one used for the continuing Internet child sexual predator sting operation, are monitored by a keystroke program. Lindsey said Murray knew whatever online sites he accessed were tracked and was too smart to use the city machine for personal use.

"The chief just wanted to know how it all worked, how they were coming to this country and setting up the parlors," Lindsey said. "He was trying to find out so he could better supervise his officers. ... You have to get down and dirty to find criminals."

Murray hired Lindsey to negotiate his severance package, Lindsey said.

Murray, 57, was chief for more than 18 years and served nearly 35 years in law enforcement. His department gained national attention since starting the Internet sting operation in 2004. A female officer pretends online to be an underage girl and chats with adult males until the men sexually proposition her. More than a dozen arrests have resulted.

Peachtree City spokeswoman Betsy Tyler said there is no ongoing investigation or pending litigation with Murray.

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