- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey yesterday said he plans to stay on the job despite his disappointment over the D.C. Council delaying a vote on his retirement-benefits package.

“I’m not job hunting,” Chief Ramsey said. “I’m not going to brood over it. It is what it is and you just move on, that’s all.”

The chief talked to reporters in his conference room at police headquarters a day after the council narrowly approved a $25,000-a-year pay raise for him, increasing his annual salary to $175,000.

The council, however, did not extend his 5-year-old contract with the city and did not address his benefits package, which includes a $60,000-a-year pension if he serves another five years on the police force. His current benefits package would pay him $44,000 annually.

Chief Ramsey signed an agreement with Mayor Anthony A. Williams in May that would have extended his contract by 57 months, authorized his pay raise and guaranteed his benefits package, which includes six months severance pay if the chief is fired without cause. The chief’s original contract expired in April.

Chief Ramsey said there is still time for the benefits package to be approved because he has no plans to retire soon.

“I’m not concerned about it,” he said. “I’m 53 years old. Hopefully I’ve got a few more years in me. Obviously, I have to be concerned about retirement, but that’s not going to happen tomorrow so we just work on it as it comes along.”

At a separate news conference yesterday, Mr. Williams said he was “pleased” the council approved the chief’s pay raise, but that council members trying to deliver a political message were being “unfair” in letting the benefits package languish in committee.

“If you have a problem with me, then deal with me. Don’t hold the chief hostage to get my attention,” Mr. Williams said. “I’m going to spend my time during the summer trying to make the council answer the question of whether we want to treat our chief fairly.”

Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat and chairman of the judiciary committee, refused to let the resolution authorizing the benefits package out of her committee.

Mrs. Patterson told council members she would be willing to let the resolution come to a vote in a year, after the council has a chance to review the chief’s performance.

Chief Ramsey yesterday said he should be held to the standards the mayor has set for him.

“We all need to be held accountable,” he said, “but we need to have one set of standards. We can’t be pulled in a million different directions.”

His dispute with the council will not affect his working relationship with the panel, he said.

“I work with the council; I work with all kinds of folks,” the chief said. “Some people like me; some people don’t like me. … I don’t personalize this. I don’t dislike anyone. I hope that others have the same attitude.”

The council’s 7-6 vote Tuesday followed a heated debate during which some of the chief’s supporters acknowledged lingering problems with the city’s 911 system, the deployment of officers, an increase in slayings and a poor record in closing homicide cases.

Chief Ramsey said last year’s 262 homicides were still below the 301 in 1997, the tally for the last full year before he arrived in the District. He said the homicide-closure rate, which has steadily declined since reaching 70 percent in 1997, has rebounded. He said it stands at about 51 percent for this year, up from about 32 percent at this time last year.

“The bottom line is this: The Metropolitan Police Department in 2003 is much better than it was when I took it over in April 1998, with all the problems, all the issues that were going on,” Chief Ramsey said.

He refused to say whether he has been approached about other jobs after he had hinted he would consider leaving the department if the raise and the benefits package were not approved.

“I’m committed to D.C.,” he said. “I think I’ve made it clear that I’d be committed to D.C. That’s all. I like being where I’m at. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”

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