Murray may be fastest cop in U.S. - Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


On a summer afternoon you might see a 49-year old man running through the streets and alleys of Mt. Pleasant, leading a pack of teenage boys. The man seems comfortable at his pace; the boys, for the most part, are huffing and puffing. The man is Lyle Murray. He and Mitch Anderson co-coach the girls and boys cross country track team. Lyle is also the Police Chief of Mt. Pleasant.
Lyle Murray of Mt. Pleasant builds relationships as a police chief and coach. Lyle Murray hails from Vermont, where he went through the police academy and worked as a policeman for five years. However, his wife, Jackie, is from Ft. Madison. Jackie wanted to be close to home, so, when a police patrol position opened in Mt. Pleasant, Lyle applied, and was accepted.
He was a patrolman for a couple of years, then investigator, then lieutenant, then chief. To say that Lyle moved through the ranks fast is an understatement, because he is fast. His fastest time (when he was younger) in the 5K (3.1 miles) was 15:45 minutes (on a track); that's a high 4-minute per mile pace. In the 10K (6.2 miles), his best time was around 35 minutes, for a mid 5-minute per mile pace. I used to call him the fastest cop in the United States.
He runs a lot of local races, plus was a half-marathon (13.1 miles) pacer in the Des Moines Marathon. He also accompanied Mt. Pleasant's running club twice to Kansas City where we ran in the underground Hunt Caves in celebration of Ground Hog Day. At the Groundhog Run, which has over a thousand runners, he placed first in his age division.
More recently, Lyle ran a 10K (6.2 miles) in a little over 40 minutes. That's just over 6.5 minutes a mile. Remember, he's pushing fifty. I'm going to go out on a limb here and claim that Lyle Murray of Mt. Pleasant is the fastest police chief in the United States. I dare anyone to prove me wrong.
Not a runner in high school, Lyle gets his running from his dad, who was also fast. Likewise, Lyle passed his fleet feet onto his two kids, Logan and Taylor, both of whom ran cross country in high school and were coached by their dad. Logan is now a senior at the University of Northern Iowa, is on the track and cross country team, and wants to be a college running coach. In fact he has made up a little running plan for Lyle, who runs three days on and one day off. Having coached Logan, Logan now coaches his father.
An interesting detail about Lyle's running is that he laces his running shoes so loosely, he can actually kick his shoes off. Lyle maintains (accurately) that runners' feet swell when running long distance. If the shoe is tied tightly, circulation can be cut off over the top of the arch. Lyle also has a special technique for lacing running shoes that he passes along to runners. (I didn't listen to Lyle. Sure enough, I developed a golf-ball sized cyst on the top of my right foot, where the knot is tied. It had to be surgically removed.)
As police chief, Lyle runs his department loosely. His officers all know how to do their job without him managing them tightly. Lyle would rather be out patrolling, working with the public, than sitting at his desk.
Lyle also likes to mix things up, to force people out of their comfort zones. To test runners on how good they are at predicting their finish times, and pacing themselves, he has organized community “Prediction Runs” where runners, without wearing watches, predict how fast they can run a 5K. This type of run was popular on the East Coast. The results can be eye opening for runners, depending on how close, or not so close, they come to their predicted finish time.
Each summer, before cross country season starts, both the boys and the girls high school teams meet and stay over night in cabins at Oakland Mills, the boys in one cabin, the girls in another. They set goals, bond, and make plans. It's no wonder the girls cross country team has won four conference championships. (Back in my day, our “bonding” for high school football was called “blocking and tackling practice.”)
Whether it's a high school sports team or city police department, Lyle Murray believes that, “It's all about building relationships.” Mount Pleasant is fortunate to have Lyle Murray as a police chief, coach and public relations expert.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or visit his website at

author, Column, Curt Swarm, editorial, Empty Nest, Mt. Pleasant, opinion, Pen City Current


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