Monday, June 16, 2008

Ramsey Adjusting to Life in Phila

Former DC police chief Charles Ramsey hasn't had the best luck lately at his new digs in Philadelphia. Four of his officers were recently fired for beating suspects and exerting excessive force. They were fired after much public pressure since the beatings were shown on television after being taped by a helicopter news crew. In another case, two Phila officers were criminally charged for beating a suspect, including breaking his jaw, and trying to cover up the assault after the fact.

After the 2000 IMF protest debacle, which he didn't initiate, but handled poorly, his reputation was sullied with many in DC. In addition, his gruff attitude and condoning of questionable crime fighting tactics didn't help either. Ramsey was, at best stoic, and at worst, down right grating; not that chiefs of police are required to smile and shake hands 24/7. However, with the Fenty administration, there seems to be an effort to make government more accessible and able to connect with the average citizen in DC. This is something Ramsey could not do.

Until recently, the new DC chief, Cathy Lanier, has proven to be much more effective on all fronts, especially the legal and public perception front. Lanier has been criticized for instituting a controversial checkpoint program in a NE DC neighborhood. Interestingly, Ramsey and Phila Mayor Michael Nutter wouldn't rule out taking up similar programs.

A mixed bag really, considering crime is generally down across the United States, including in cities like DC and Philadelphia. Well, we can't really say that's true for DC. Seems the departments couldn't get the stats together to hand over to the FBI. Even without the numbers from the FBI, we seem to be better off than before. Whether part of the Lanier effect or just part of a national trend, its good news. Good luck to Ramsey as well, trying to fit in, in a tough city.