Thursday, November 15, 2007

Philadelphia's Future Police Commisioner Announced

Mayor Elect Michael Nutter has announced that former Wash., DC Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsay will be the new commander-in-chief in the war against crime in Philadelphia.

According to the blog

" He's said to be a big believer in community policing, which he also championed in his hometown, Chicago. He joined the Chicago force as a 18-year-old rookie, and rose through the ranks to become Deputy Superintendent of the Bureau of Staff Services before heading to D.C.

But Ramsey has been known to throw down a crime emergency, the latest in July 2006 after a wave of shootings that was, frankly, far less serious than the one Philly has lived in for two years.

It's important to note that Ramsey's crime emergencies are very different from what Nutter has discussed. Ramsey's merely gave him the ability to change police deployment and require overtime, which cost the district quite a lot: $14 million for Ramsey's emergency in 2006.

Nutter said at today's announcement that he would leave the decision whether to declare a crime emergency up to Ramsey (you will recall that Nutter's crime plan, issued during the primary, said he would declare a crime emergency "on day one" of his administration).

(Now, it would be appropriate to discuss whether Ramsey's strategies in DC were working if he was forced to announce a crime emergency.

Ramsey has had his critics in D.C. When he left, here's how the Post said about him:

Ramsey, a career cop who got as much attention for his personality as his policies, leaves office today as the city's longest-serving chief in more than three decades. As a master of the sound bite, he often spouted off about crimes and railed about topics that were beyond his control, including irresponsible parents and failing schools.
His critics -- in the police union, on the D.C. Council and in some crime-ravaged neighborhoods -- view him as a showboat. In many parts of the city, residents say that they don't see enough officers on patrol and that crimes are not investigated quickly or thoroughly. Inside the agency, morale is low, with officers saying that Ramsey overworked them by declaring crime emergencies that took away days off and lasted for months."

Whatever Ramsay's strategy will be, things certainly can't get much worse. He needs to be given a chance and the tools necessary to create change.

Most importantly, the community needs to step up and do its part. One of the major hindrances to current Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson's efforts to combat crime has been the lack of support from the community.
As was cited in a Washington Post article which addressed Ramsay's "crime emergency" strategy:

" Citizens, who unlike the police are everywhere, can help by being vigilant and by reporting suspicious activity before, not after, the fact. Does that mean following the admonition of Inspector Andy Solberg, commander of the 2nd District, who suggested during a public meeting called to discuss this week's Georgetown slaying that suspicious-looking people in the neighborhood -- those who are "going to stand out" -- should be reported? Yes. But should the criterion be race because, as Inspector Solberg said, "black people are unusual" in Georgetown? The answer, of course, is no. Behavior, actions, demeanor -- not skin color -- should be the basis for picking up the phone and dialing 911.

Citizens can also help the police and themselves by insisting on better rehabilitation programs within prisons and more support services for returning inmates. They can also demand a frontal attack on the pipeline that produces the kind of people who end up robbing, stealing and ultimately killing. Within that pipeline can be found poor parenting, inferior education and lack of values, a drug culture, and an environment where bad behavior is tolerated, if not encouraged."

Mayor Elect Nutter and City Council also need to step up and address Philadelphia's gun laws.

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Related articles:

D.C.'s Crime Emergency

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