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The John M. Penrith Award 2008

Charles H. Ramsey


A native of Chicago, Illinois, Commissioner Ramsey served in the Chicago Police Department for nearly three decades in a variety of assignments. He began his career in 1968 at the age of 18, as a Chicago Police cadet.

A nationally recognized innovator, educator and practitioner of community policing, Commissioner Ramsey is known to refocus police departments on crime fighting and crime prevention through a more accountable organizational structure, new equipment and technology, an enhanced strategy of community policing since September 11, 2001, new approaches to homeland security and counter-terrorism.

He was the Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department from April 21, 1998 to December 28, 2006. He was the longest-serving chief of the MPDC since DC Home Rule and the second longest-serving in Department history. Under Chief Ramsey's leadership, the Department regained its reputation as a national leader in urban policing. Crime rates declined by approximately 40 percent during Ramsey's tenure, community policing and traffic safety programs were expanded, and MPDC recruiting and hiring standards, training, equipment, facilities and fleet were all dramatically upgraded.

Charles H. Ramsey was appointed Police Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department on January 7, 2008. Commissioner Ramsey leads the fourth largest police department in the country with 6,700 sworn members and 830 civilian members. He brings the knowledge and experience of nearly forty years in the law enforcement profession.

An incident occurred in Philadelphia that attracted national attention. A group of officers was videotaped beating and kicking three men after a vehicular chase. The incident occurred on May 7, 2008, and was broadcast nationwide the following day. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey was interviewed the following morning and quoted as saying that the incident was troubling and that the matter would be reviewed. He also noted that his officers might have been influenced by the fact that another Philadelphia police officer had been killed in the line of duty several days before.

On May 19, 2008, Commissioner Ramsey announced that after a thorough review, four officers would be terminated and four others would be disciplined for their behavior during the incident. This is a classic example of how a Chief Executive should act after an incident of this type occurs. The department handled the matter promptly, fairly, and the public was kept informed throughout the process. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Chuck Ramsey is considered on of the finest law enforcement executives in the United States.