MUSEUM ORAL HISTORY

Charles H. Ramsey
Interviewed by Brien Williams

 “If you ask a lot of police officers “What is your role in society?” they’ll say, “Well, enforce laws.” Reality is that’s a very small slice of what we do. Protecting the constitutional rights of all people ought to be first and foremost.”

Charles Ramsey’s eye for reform has served him well in two of the largest cities in the US and the nation’s capital. During his twenty-seven year career in Chicago, Ramsey created CAPS, the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, the city’s first successful community policing model. When he became the first outsider to head the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) of Washington, DC, Ramsey was determined to make the MPD a model for the rest of the country. He invited the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review the department. Within a year, there was an eighty-five percent reduction in officer-involved shootings. In 2008, Ramsey became the Commissioner in Philadelphia where the murder rate had reached nearly 400 deaths per year. He again invited the DOJ in and focused on strengthening the patrol division. By the time Ramsey retired in 2015, Philadelphia’s homicide and violent crime rates had dropped significantly. In 2016, Ramsey is expanding on his work as co-chair of President Obama’s Task Force on Twenty-First Century Policing by helping departments across the country establish better policies, strengthen community relations, and instill better training for their officers.









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The Museum's Witness to History program is generously funded by the Target Corporation©.