- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Who’d have thought that a former high-profile police chief, a cop’s cop so to speak, would become a pitchman for Barack Obama?

Charles H. Ramsey has been a cop all his adult life, having joined the Chicago Police Department as a cadet at age 18. After rising through the ranks and becoming deputy superintendent, he became the top cop in D.C. and later Philadelphia, where President Obama tapped him to co-chair the Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Now he’s on the move again — and the task this go ‘round is perhaps tougher than being top cop in a major U.S. city.

With a seven-month contract that allows him to spend $16,000 a month, Mr. Ramsey is now a public safety consultant to the city of Wilmington, Delaware.

Always plainspoken during our exchanges and encounters when he was the D.C. police chief, Mr. Ramsey offered more of the same in his remarks in Wilmington on Monday.


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“I look forward to working with Mayor [Dennis] Williams, Chief [Bobby] Cummings and the Wilmington Police Department to enhance the public safety efforts within the city of Wilmington,” Mr. Ramsey said in a statement. “The Wilmington Police Department is headed in the right direction, and I believe with further implementation of the 21st Century Policing recommendations we can have an impact in improving police community relations and reducing violent crime.”

As I said, plainspoken, leaving no doubt to his mission. The operative word, “implementation,” is in plain sight.

A proponent of the death penalty, Mr. Ramsey was an implementer while in the nation’s capital. He invested in community policing by creating a gay-lesbian liaison unit and a Holocaust education program. He also instituted crime emergencies when necessary and fought for considerable resources for officers — for new uniforms, new technology, new vehicles and new training protocols. And he put officers on the streets and gave the practice a new name: law and order.

The chief’s community policing philosophy was simple and uncomplicated: Officers and residents must connect with one another, and officers and merchants must connect with one another.

He did much more here, of course, which is why Michael Nutter, the then-new mayor of then-unbrotherly Philadelphia, scooped him up.

Mr. Ramsey also did something that, frankly, was missing from the mouths of his D.C. predecessors and successors. He often used the opportunity to talk about parental responsibility and self-help during anti-crime and community-policing discussions, using words like “parents” and “parenting” and “family” and “neighbors” to convey the fact that good police and policing are no substitutions.

He would speak plainly to parents, and urge and encourage them to be responsible and teach the kids likewise, to not let TV and music instill the values young people should see and be taught at home.

He even took heat when he labeled as “irresponsible” parents who allow their children to roam the streets in the wee hours of the morning.

It’s not clear to what extent Mr. Ramsey’s views on community policing will be pushed toward the leaders of Wilmington, a midsize city that’s nicknamed “Murder Town.” (ABC is working on a Jada Pinkett-Smith drama of the same name.)

The people of Chicago need more Chuck Ramsey types than they do Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has let “Chi-Raq” rack up 119 shootings already this year, and 19 of them fatal.

In the meantime, Wilmington it shall be — at least for the next month.

That Mr. Ramsey is a mere consultant and does not have the final say on how much stock city officials will put into the Obama plan gives the former chief his out. An obvious upshot is that Mr. Ramsey will have pitched the Obama plan in Delaware, which is undisputed Joe Biden territory, and Mr. Ramsey can hop the Acela and be in D.C., Philly and New York at the blow of a whistle.

Also, if Democrats can boast violent-crime downturns from coast to coast and in places like Wilmington by midsummer, then you can imagine where the hallelujah voters are going to strike up their bands.

Wish Chuck Ramsey the best. He’s going to need it because you can’t be a cop’s cop and an Obama pitchman at the same time.

Or can you?

A cop’s cop operates from the premise that killers, not police, are the bad guys.

 

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]


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