Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Former D.C. Police Chief, Announces Retirement

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced his retirement Wednesday, ending a 47-year career in law enforcement that included roles in Chicago and Washington, D.C. 

Ramsey said at a news conference attended by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and other city officials that his last day would be Jan. 7, 2016. Nutter brought the 65-year-old Ramsey to Philadelphia in 2008 when he took office.

Prior to his time in Philadelphia, Ramsey led the Metropolitan Police Department, serving as police chief from 1998 to 2007. During his stint, his department investigated two of the D.C. area's most nationally recognized cases: the disappearance and death of Washington intern Chandra Levy and the deadly shootings committed by the D.C. snipers.

Levy's 2001 disappearance created a national sensation after the 24-year-old California native was romantically linked with then-U.S. Rep. Gary Condit. Condit, a California Democrat, was ultimately ruled out as a suspect.

The next year, Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad gunned down 13 people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, killing 10. The pair paralyzed the nation's capital as they shot people at random -- at gas stations, shopping malls, going to school. They used a high-powered rifle, firing from the trunk of a modified Chevy Caprice until they were apprehended.

Crime rates fell about 40 percent during Ramsey's tenure in the nation's capital, with community policing, improved hiring practices and better training and equipment cited as reasons for the improvement.

Ramsey also established a 3-1-1 non-emergency reporting system and established a website to make crime information reports available to the public.

Ramsey joined the Chicago Police Department as an 18-year-old recruit in 1968. He rose through the ranks to become Chicago's deputy superintendent of police.

"I came out of retirement to come to Philadelphia and work for him, and I'm honored to be able to leave with him as well," Ramsey said of Nutter. "A leader is only as good as the people working for him, and we have an outstanding group of individuals in the department."

The number of homicides in Philadelphia has fallen from 391 in 2007, the year before Ramsey became commissioner, to 248 last year. This year has already eclipsed last year's murder rate, with 216 as of Tuesday. From 2008-14, there were an average of 299 killings per year.

Ramsey was co-chairman of the policing task force formed by President Barack Obama after the fatal police shooting last summer of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The panel has recommended dozens of changes in training, transparency and outreach, many of which Ramsey said Philadelphia would implement.

Nutter called Ramsey the nation's best commissioner and said he changed the culture of the city's policing and created a "very strong and sturdy foundation for the future."

"Thank you for coming to Philadelphia and thank you for making my city a safer city," Nutter said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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