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Ramsey, Charles H.

Charles H. Ramsey

1948—

Police chief

Charles Ramsey gained his reputation as a cop's cop and an innovator with the Chicago Police Department in the early 1990s, when he created the nationally acclaimed Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), a collection of policies based on greater partnerships between police officers and residents. As Chicago police superintendent Terry G. Hilliard noted on the Chicago Police Web site, "Chuck Ramsey took a general concept—community policing—and helped mold it into an effective crime-fighting strategy here in Chicago. That strategy—the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy—has helped to bring about steady reductions in serious crime in our city. The CAPS strategy has also created new and strong bonds between our police officers and the communities they serve." As a result of Ramsey's innovative approach to community policing, he was recruited by the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department, where he took over as chief in April of 1998. He left that post with the election of a new mayor at the end of 2006, and moved on to another high-profile job as police commissioner in Philadelphia, where he was once again faced with the difficult task of taming violence and crime in one of the nation's major urban centers.

Throughout his career Ramsey has worked to foster better relationships between police officers and the people they serve, and he has developed a stellar reputation as a communicator and manager. He has been especially successful at addressing racial issues within the police department and the community at large. While in Chicago, Ramsey ordered police recruitment teams to include at least one African American, one white, one Hispanic, and one female officer to help ensure diversity in hiring. He also mandated that notices issued by the police department be printed in Korean, Vietnamese, Polish, and Spanish in addition to English.

Grew Up in Dangerous Area

Ramsey grew up on Chicago's tough South Side, one of three children born to a practical nurse and a bus driver with the Chicago Transit Authority. At the age of fifteen he received a graphic lesson on the horrors of crime when a young neighbor boy was stabbed to death in front of the Ramsey home by members of a local gang. "There comes a point in time when that kind of senseless stuff has to stop and we've got to turn things around, because society can't go on like this," Ramsey told the Washington Post about this incident in 1998. "And I think that's why I'm sensitive to the kinds of fear, the kinds of violence, the things that go on in neighborhoods and communities."

Ramsey began considering a career in law enforcement after he was befriended by two police officers who often visited the grocery store where he worked. The officers told Ramsey, then nineteen years old, that he could make more money if he enrolled in Chicago's police cadet program. They added that the program would also pay for his tuition at the University of Illinois. "I thought about it, and said, ‘I really don't want to be a policeman,’" Ramsey told the Washington Post. "The police had quite a bad reputation."

After a great deal of reflection, Ramsey decided to take the admission tests for the cadet program. As Ramsey remarked to the Washington Post, he was one of only fifty applicants from a field of thousands to be accepted into the program. Four years later he graduated from the Chicago police academy and was quickly promoted. He became Chicago's youngest African-American sergeant in 1977, then its youngest African-American lieutenant in 1984. In 1988 Ramsey became the youngest African American to be promoted to the rank of captain. By his late forties, Ramsey had risen to the rank of deputy superintendent.

During his years on the Chicago police force, Ramsey instituted several of his own innovations. As a commander in the 11th District during the late 1980s, he worked with community groups to devise strategies for fighting crime. In 1989 Ramsey's precinct was ranked first in Chicago for crime reduction and felony arrests. He also created a crime mapping system that efficiently deployed police officers to areas where they were most needed. While working in the narcotics section of the Bureau of Investigative Services, he developed new strategies for targeting illegal drug activities. These strategies resulted in a dramatic increase in the arrest and conviction of drug dealers.

During the early 1990s Ramsey received national recognition for his creation of the basic CAPS operational model, and he played a crucial role in each stage of the CAPS implementation. For his efforts Ramsey received the Gary P. Hayes Award, the Police Executive Research Forum's most prestigious honor. After he was promoted to deputy superintendent in the Bureau of Staff Services in 1994, Ramsey developed community policing training curricula that were adopted by police officers and supervisors across the United States. He also established a highly acclaimed pilot program to improve the police department's response to incidences of domestic violence.

At a Glance …

Born in 1948 in Chicago, IL; son of a practical nurse and a bus driver; divorced; children: Michael. Education: Attended Drug Enforcement Administration Narcotics Supervisors School, 1981, and Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy, 1986; Lewis University, BA (with high honors), 1990, MS, 1991.

Career: Chicago Police Department, enrolled in cadet program, late 1960s, sworn in as police officer, 1971, promoted to sergeant, 1977, promoted to lieutenant, 1984, served as commander of Area 1 Detective Division, Bureau of Investigative Services, 1987-89, promoted to captain, 1988, served as commander of Patrol Division, 11th District, Bureau of Operational Services, 1988-89, served as commander of Narcotics Section, Bureau of Investigative Services, 1989-92, served as deputy chief of Patrol Division, Bureau of Operational Services, 1992-94, created basic operational model for department's Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), and served as deputy superintendent of Bureau of Staff Services, 1994-98; Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC, chief, 1998-2006; Philadelphia Police Department, policy commissioner, 2007—.

Memberships: Police Executive Research Forum, 1994—; Human Resources Subcommittee, Major Cities Chiefs, 1994—.

Awards: Eleven commendations, two special service awards, and one problem-solving award, Chicago Police Department; Gary P. Hayes Award, Police Executive Research Forum, 1994; Sigmund Livingston Award, Anti-Defamation League, 2001; Parents Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Award, 2002; John Carroll Society Medal, Archdiocese of Washington, 2003; Paul Harris Fellow Award, Rotary Club of Greater Washington, 2005; Leadership Award, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2005; FBI Leadership in Counter Terrorism Award, 2006; Innovations in American Government Award, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, 2006.

Addresses: Office—Philadelphia Police Department, One Franklin Square, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

In early 1998 Ramsey was considered for the superintendent's position in the Chicago police department but lost out to another member of the Chicago force. That same year, he was approached by the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department to apply for its vacant police chief post. After a four-month search, Ramsey was finally selected for the job from a list of over fifty candidates. He was given a five-year contract worth $150,000 annually—a $40,000 raise over his last position in Chicago—and the appointment made him the first person outside of the DC department to be named to the post in three decades. "I am convinced we have the best person in America to lead the Metropolitan Police Department," commented Chief Judge Eugene Hamilton of the DC Superior Court about the appointment, in the Washington Post.

Upon his arrival in Washington DC, Ramsey pledged to "cut wasteful spending, enhance training, improve record-keeping, clear away deadwood personnel and correct the department's many other problems," according to Cheryl W. Thompson and Jon Jeter in the Washington Post. He inherited some major challenges, including Washington's reputation as a crime-ridden city and a police department that had been accused of numerous cases of misconduct. He also had to cope with a police infrastructure that was plagued by aging equipment, run-down buildings, obsolete technology, and a shortage of competent officers.

Instituted Many Changes in DC

After only a short time as police chief, Ramsey concluded that the department would have to be completely overhauled. Thompson in the Washington Post noted that Ramsey decided to hire more civilians to perform jobs previously done by officers, reduce the number of officers assigned to protect the mayor, reassign various top department officials, and allot more funds for training in order to increase the accountability of department employees. A critical part of Ramsey's agenda, in accordance with his support of community policing, was to get more officers on the streets. His goal was to send teams of officers and residents into the community to create more potent alliances in the battle against crime, and to eliminate as many as possible of the prime breeding grounds for crime, such as crack houses.

During his first year, Ramsey initiated recruitment drives at military bases and college campuses in order to lure quality personnel to the department. He also began to push for a change in the educational requirements for new recruits, proposing that those recruited after the year 2000 have at least two years of college. Ramsey viewed education as a vital component for attracting officer candidates who possessed problem-solving abilities and the social skills needed to interact with an increasingly diverse community.

Ramsey has taught numerous courses on police science and community policing throughout the United States. In 1998 he spoke at a conference in Chicago called "Beyond the Rhetoric—Facing the Challenges of Community Policing" that was attended by more than seven hundred community policing advocates from around the world. "We can choose our future," noted Ramsey at the Conference, whose words were recounted on the Chicago Police site on the Web. "We can start to form partnerships now, and we can work with kids who are three years old, four years old, so when they hit those critical years they have options available to them other than crime."

Became Commissioner in Philly

In spite of his accomplishments, Ramsey was not immune from criticism. With violent crime in Washington soaring, his job was on the line in 2003. Ramsey responded by declaring a state of crisis. He implemented a number of emergency policies, including suspending contract rules governing officers' schedules and sick leave. He barely survived a city council vote—seven to six—on whether to extend his contract. Ramsey overcame that difficult period, and oversaw an overall drop in crime in the nation's capital that lasted over the next few years.

In 2006 one of Ramsey's critics on the city council, Adrian Fenty, was elected mayor of Washington DC. With the change in administration, Ramsey was forced to resign from his post at the end of that year. He was a finalist for the commissioner position in Baltimore, Maryland, but did not land the job. After spending several months working as a consultant on antiterrorism planning and other police practices to a variety of law enforcement organizations, including the U.S. Capitol Police, the Police Executive Research Forum, and even overseas in Iraq, Poland, and the Czech Republic, Ramsey was hired as commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department in 2007. In Philly he worked to enhance the department's reputation in the community. In January of 2008 Ramsey unveiled an ambitious plan to dramatically reduce the number of murders in Philadelphia, and his policies were largely embraced across the city. He could not, however, escape controversy entirely. In May of 2008 several officers were caught on videotape brutally beating three men suspected in a shooting. While the event was a black eye for the department, Ramsey was widely praised for acting swiftly in firing some of the officers implicated in the incident. His handling of the affair prevented matters from spiraling out of control as has happened under similar circumstances in other cities.

Sources

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, January 18, 1998, section 4C, p. 1; April 21, 1998, section 1, p. 4.

New York Times, April 3, 1998, p. A14; April 22, 1998, p. A24; August 30, 2003, p. A10.

Philadelphia Inquirer, January 30, 2008; May 19, 2008.

Washington Post, December 28, 2006, A1; August 29, 2007, B4; September 1, 2007, p. B2; November 16, 2007, B3.

Online

"Executive Profiles: Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey," Philadelphia Police Department, http://www.ppdonline.org/hq_aboutramsey.php (accessed July 14, 2008).

—Ed Decker and Bob Jacobson

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Ramsey, Charles H. 1948–

Charles H. Ramsey 1948

D.C. police chief

Grew Up in Dangerous Area

Instituted Many Changes in D.C.

Sources

Charles Ramsey gained his reputation with the Chicago Police Department in the early 1990s when he created the nationally acclaimed Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS)a collection of policies based on greater partnerships between police officers and residents. As Chicagos police superintendent Terry G. Hilliard noted on the Chicago Police Website, Chuck Ramsey took a general conceptcommunity policingand helped mold it into an effective crime-fighting strategy here in Chicago. That strategythe Chicago Alternative Policing Strategyhas helped to bring about steady reductions in serious crime in our city. The CAPS strategy has also created new and strong bonds between our police officers and the communities they serve. As a result of Ramseys innovative approach to community policing, he was courted by the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department for the position of police chief. Ramsey decided to make the move to the nations capital and took over as the new police chief of Washington D.C. in April of 1998.

This is a guy who gets out on the streets and knows whats going on, commented Bill Nolan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, according to the Washington Post. Throughout his career Ramsey has worked to foster better relationships between police officers and the people they serve, and he has developed a stellar reputation as a communicator and manager. He has been especially successful at addressing racial issues within the police department and the community at large. While in Chicago, Ramsey ordered police recruitment teams to include at least one African American, one white, one Hispanic, and one female officer to help ensure the hiring of women and people of color. He also mandated that notices issued by the police department be printed in English as well as Korean, Vietnamese, Polish, and Spanish.

Grew Up in Dangerous Area

Ramsey grew up on Chicagos tough South Side, one of three children born to a practical nurse and a bus driver with the Chicago Transit Authority. At the age of 15, he received a graphic lesson of the horrors of crime when a young neighbor boy was stabbed to death in front of the Ramsey home by members of a local gang. There

At a Glance

Bom 1948, in Chicago, IL; son of a practical nurse and bus driver; one brother, one sister; divorced; children: Michael.Education: Drug Enforcement Administration Narcotics Supervisors School, 1981; Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy, 1986; Lewis University, B.A. (with high honors), 1990; Lewis University, M.S., 1991.

Career: Enrolled in Chicago Police Department cadet program, late 1960s; sworn in as police officer, 1971; promoted to sergeant, 1977; promoted to lieutenant, 1984; served as commander, Area 1 Detective Division, Bureau of Investigative Services, 1987-89; promoted to captain, 1988; became commander, Patrol Division, 11 th District, Bureau of Operational Services, 1988-89; served as commander, Narcotics Section, Bureau of Investigative Services, 1989-92; was Deputy Chief, Patrol Division, Bureau of Operational Services, 1992-94; created basic operational model for departments Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS); served as deputy superintendent, Bureau of Staff Services, 1994-98; appointed chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, D.C., 1998-.

Awards and honors: Distinguished Police Cooperation Medal, Korean National Police, 1995; Chicago Police Department: 11 Commendations, 2 Special Service Awards, 1 Problem-Solving Award, 95 Honorable Mentions; Gary P. Hayes Award, Police Executive Research Forum.

Memberships and affiliations: member, Chicago, Police Captains Association, 1988-98; board of directors, St. Jude Police League, 1991-98; member, Police Executive Research Forum, 1994-; Human Resources Subcommittee, Major Cities Chiefs, 1994-.

Addresses : Professional Metropolitan Police Department, 300 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C 20001.

comes a point in time when that kind of senseless stuff has to stop and weve got to turn things around, because society cant go on like this, Ramsey reminisced to the Washington Post about this incident in 1998. And I think thats why Im sensitive to the kinds of fear, the kinds of violence, the things that go on in neighborhoods and communities.

Ramsey began considering a career in law enforcement after he was befriended by two police officers who often visited the grocery store where he worked. The officers told Ramsey, who was then 19 years-old, that he could make more money if he enrolled in Chicagos police cadet program. They added that the program would also pay for his tuition at the University of Illinois. I thought about it, and said, I really dont want to be a policeman, Ramsey told the Washington Post. The police had quite a bad reputation.

After a great deal of reflection, Ramsey decided to take the admission tests for the cadet program. As Ramsey remarked to the Washington Post, he was one of only 50 applicants from a field of thousands to be accepted into the program. Four years later, he graduated from the Chicago police academy and was quickly promoted. He became Chicagos youngest African American sergeant in 1977, then its youngest African American lieutenant in 1984. In 1988 Ramsey became the youngest African American to be promoted to the rank of captain, according to the DC Watch site on the World Wide Web. By his late forties, Ramsey had risen to the rank of deputy superintendent.

During his years on the Chicago police force, Ramsey instituted several of his own innovations. As a commander in the 11th District during the late 1980s, he worked with community groups to devise strategies for fighting crime. In 1989, Ramseys precinct was ranked first in Chicago for crime reduction and felony arrests. He also created a crime mapping system that efficiently deployed police officers to areas where they were most needed. While working in the narcotics section of the Bureau of Investigative Services, he developed new strategies for targeting illegal drug activities. These strategies resulted in a dramatic increase in the arrest and conviction of drug dealers.

During the early 1990s, Ramsey received national recognition for his creation of the basic CAPS operational model and played a crucial role in each stage of the CAPS implementation. For his efforts Ramsey received the Gary P. Hayes Award, the Police Executive Research Forums most prestigious honor. After he was promoted to deputy superintendent in the Bureau of Staff Services in 1994, Ramsey developed community policing training curricula that were adopted by police officers and supervisors across the United States. He also established a highly-acclaimed pilot program to improve the police departments response to incidences of domestic violence.

In early 1998, Ramsey was considered for the superintendents position in the Chicago police department but lost out to another member of the department. That same year, he was approached by the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department as a candidate for its vacant police chief post. After a four-month search, Ramsey was finally selected for the job from a list of over 50 candidates. He was given a five-year contract worth $150,000 annuallya $40,000 raise over his last position in Chicagoand his appointment made him the first person outside of the D.C. department to be named to the post in three decades. I am convinced we have the best person in America to lead the Metropolitan Police Department, commented Chief Judge Eugene Hamilton of the D.C. Superior Court about the appointment, in the Washington Post.

Upon his arrival in Washington D.C, Ramsey pledged to cut wasteful spending, enhance training, improve record-keeping, clear away deadwood personnel and correct the departments many other problems, according to Cheryl W. Thompson and Jon Jeter in the Washington Post. He inherited some major challenges, including Washington D.C.s reputation as a crime-ridden city and a police department that had been accused of numerous incidences of misconduct. He also had to cope with a police infrastructure that was plagued by aging equipment, run-down buildings, obsolete technology, and a shortage of competent police officers.

Instituted Many Changes in D.C.

After only a short time as police chief, Ramsey had concluded that the department would have to be completely overhauled. Thompsons article in the Washington Post noted that Ramsey decided to hire more civilians to perform jobs currently done by officers, reduce the number of officers assigned to protect the mayor, reassign various top department officials, and allot more funds for training in order to increase the accountability of department employees. A critical part of Ramseys agenda, in accordance with his support of community policing, was to get more officers on the streets. His goal was to send teams of officers and residents into the community to create more potent alliances in the battle against crime, and to optimize the elimination of prime breeding grounds for crime such as crack houses.

During his first year, Ramsey initiated recruitment drives at military bases and college campuses in order to lure quality personnel to the department. He also began to push for a change in the educational requirements for new recruits, proposing that those recruited after the year 2000 have at least two years of college. Ramsey viewed education as a vital component for attracting officer candidates who possessed problem-solving abilities and the social skills needed to interact with an increasingly diverse community.

During his stellar career, Ramsey has taught numerous courses on police science and community policing throughout the United States. In 1998, he spoke at a conference in Chicago called Beyond the RhetoricFacing the Challenges of Community Policing that was attended by more than 700 community policing advocates from around the world. We can choose our future, noted Ramsey at the Conference, whose words were recounted on the Chicago Police site on the Web. We can start to form partnerships now, and we can work with kids who are three years old, four years old, so when they hit those critical years they have options available to them other than crime.

Sources

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, January 18, 1998, Section 4C, p. 1; April 21, 1998, Section 1, p. 4.

New York Times, April 3, 1998, p. A14; April 22, 1998, p. A24.

Other

Additional information for this profile was obtained from the DC Watch, Washington Post, and Chicago Police sites on the World Wide Web.

Ed Decker

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ramsey, Charles H. 1948–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ramsey, Charles H. 1948–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ramsey-charles-h-1948

"Ramsey, Charles H. 1948–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ramsey-charles-h-1948