- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 7, 2002

Detectives in the violent crimes branch will be transferred if an ongoing review proves they are unworthy of their jobs, Police Chief Charles Ramsey said the other day. What a brilliant public-relations move. The chief is on the hot seat for this year's spike in homicides and for his failure to meet a promise he made to his boss, Mayor Williams, and what does he do? Blame it on his detectives instead of his own failed leadership.
"There is nothing more serious than the crime of murder," the chief told WTOP radio Thursday, during the "Ask the Chief" show. A 49 percent [homicide] closure rate is an embarrassment to me, and it ought to be an embarrassment to every single member of the Metropolitan Police department because it's pitiful. It's not where it ought to be." The chief's points are well-taken. However, the closure rate didn't merely decline; it plummeted.
The clearance rate was 70.1 percent in 1997, the year before Chief Ramsey was hired and the first year the city had seen a considerable drop in overall violent crimes, including homicides, in a long time. Each year since the chief took over in 1998, homicides continued to decline until this year. Ever since Chief Ramsey turned his department's attention from neighborhood safety and toward electronic surveillance, the homicide rates have increased and closure rates have decreased.
"We've got some people that have … zero closure rate," the chief said, "and that's totally unacceptable."
So is the chief's performance of late. As of yesterday, there were 245 homicides compared to 214 in 2001. Those numbers and the low clearance rate mean that Chief Ramsey is lacking on the front end as well as the back end. And that is unacceptable. Also, the chief has been saying for several months that manpower is not an issue. Now, his public-relations gambit is to tell us that he's having trouble not only among his ranks, but in finding experienced homicide detectives as well.
Surely, the chief doesn't think the grieving families of crime victims would sympathize with him.

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