- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2003

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey yesterday rebuffed reports about his candidacy for police chief in Chicago, saying that he wants to stay in the District.

"The members of the Metropolitan Police Department mean a great deal to me," Chief Ramsey said in a written statement. "[It] is a very good police department that is on the verge of becoming a great police department and I want to continue to be a part of that transformation.

"This city and its people mean a great deal to me personally, as well as to my family," he added. "We have made the District of Columbia our home."

Chief Ramsey's statements came after the Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday that he could make the short list of possible replacements for retiring Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard. Superintendent Hillard will step down in August after five years in office.

A native of Chicago, Chief Ramsey, 53, worked in the Chicago Police Department for nearly 30 years and instituted its community policing program. He was a finalist for the police chief's job in 1998, just before he was appointed the District's police chief.

The announcement in Chicago came amid city in-fighting over the Metropolitan Police Department. Chief Ramsey's contract has yet to be renewed and, on Thursday, the D.C. Council's Judiciary Committee cut $3 million of the proposed $379 million fiscal 2004 budget after becoming impatient with management of the department.

Chief Ramsey makes $138,000 a year. His contract, which expired last year, remains in negotiation.

While some city officials say the negotiations have stalled because the chief is asking for a raise, Chief Ramsey recently told The Washington Times that the issue isn't over pay but benefits to replace those he lost when retiring from Chicago.

"I hope to get the contract taken care of in short order," he said in the statement.

If Chief Ramsey were to take the Chicago job, he would most likely get a pay raise. Superintendent Hillard makes $159,000 a year.

Despite disavowals of interest, in a recent interview with the Sun-Times Chief Ramsey said, "Chicago is my home department, my home city. Obviously, I would be flattered if something like that came up."

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, Chief Ramsey's second-in-command before leaving the department 10 months ago, said hiring Chief Ramsey would be a great move for Chicago, but terrible for the District. Chief Gainer worked with Chief Ramsey in the Chicago Police Department before coming to the District.

"It doesn't surprise me," Chief Gainer said of the candidacy. "If [Chicago Mayor Richard M.] Daley called and made a serious offer, he would have to consider it. His father, sister, wife's family is there. There is a lot to draw the chief."

Chief Gainer said he spoke with Chief Ramsey twice yesterday and that the chief "loves Washington." But he added that taking over the second-largest police department in the country would be a professional and intellectual challenge.

Others said they would look like to see Chief Ramsey leave.

"He would go with our blessing," said Sgt. G.I. Greene, acting chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"We feel he doesn't support his officers. He hasn't made any of his goals. He tried to bring Chicago here now maybe he should take it back."

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