Forward Thinking

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey

"Charles H. Ramsey, Philadelphia’s new police commissioner, is looking for a few good men and women to join the city’s 6,600-member police department. About 500 recruits will do."

"The job prospects are very high. We’re recruiting for sworn, and we’re also recruiting for civilian," Ramsey said during a recent interview with Pathways.

Ramsey said he must hire more than twice as many officers as he needs because of the expected attrition within the police department. "You look at the rate of attrition and what you have to replace, and then you go above it. You have to hire over and above that, so in the next couple years, we’ll have to hire about 500 people in order to get to see a 200 person increase," he said.

Less than a year into his new job, Ramsey is on a mission to meet Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s goal of adding hundreds more officers to the police force and creating a safer city.

Philadelphia had 392 murders last year, so Ramsey’s number one goal should come as no surprise. "Our first goal is to reduce crime, violent crime in particular," he said.

Recently, Ramsey introduced a crime fighting strategy that he expects will reduce homicides in the city by 25 percent from last year. The plan puts a heavy emphasis on increasing police visibility and patrols.

Hiring more skilled staff is another way to help reduce crime. Ramsey said he needs not only sworn, uniformed officers, but nonsworn, civilian employees, as well. "We’re looking for ballistics experts. We’re looking for DNA analysts, chemists, forensics, including computer forensics," he said.

To find qualified personnel, Ramsey said he plans to reach out to Community College of Philadelphia and many other colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area. "One of the things I would like to do is form partnerships with the colleges and universities here in Philadelphia. We have very strong criminal justice programs in the city," he said.

Charles Ramsey

He also plans to enhance the training of his existing officers and to improve the equipment and facilities of the police department to help officers do a better job.

Selected last year from about a dozen candidates under consideration for the job of Philadelphia’s top cop, Ramsey is a seasoned veteran with a reputation for results. He spent three decades with Chicago’s police department before becoming chief of police in Washington, D.C., a post he held for about a decade before arriving in Philadelphia.

While he was in Washington, homicides fell from about 300 to about 169. He is also credited with reducing the city’s overall crime rate, while overhauling Washington’s 3,900-member police department.

Ramsey hopes to duplicate that success here in Philadelphia. He said he will take a tactical approach to tracking crime, deploying resources and using technology to catch criminals and deter crime.

"Our community policing strategy in Chicago and D.C., there’s a variation of it that we’re going to be implementing here. I think that as time goes on and as situations change, it evolves. But I’m bringing fundamentally what I did in Chicago and D.C. in the area of community policing," he said.