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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Police Department announced today that former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey will serve as a Senior Advisor to the Chicago Police Department to help guide critical civil rights reforms. Commissioner Ramsey brings more than 40 years of law enforcement service to the position.
“Commissioner Ramsey is a not only a national leader in urban policing who has led two major police departments through civil rights reforms – he is also a native Chicagoan who knows our police department and our communities. With roots in Englewood, he has a unique understanding of the important role community relationships play in making our city safer,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Commissioner Ramsey has a proven track record, and his decades of experience will help as we face the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
In December 2015, the United States Justice Department announced a civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department, and Mayor Emanuel and Interim Superintendent Escalante welcomed that investigation and pledged full cooperation. Commissioner Ramsey has led two different police departments through similar processes and will provide valuable insight into the types of reforms needed in Chicago. Specifically, Commissioner Ramsey will advise the Chicago Police Department and city leaders on policies, training, and internal management and accountability systems for issues like the use of force, interactions with people suffering from mental illness, early intervention with police officers, and community policing.
“Chicago is at a defining moment, and I believe that Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Police Department are committed to meet the challenge,” said Commissioner Ramsey. “The situation in Chicago is not unlike many in cities across the country, but the people of Chicago should know that their leaders are working hard to restore trust where it has been lost. Progress won’t happen overnight, but a sustained and continued effort will put Chicago on a path forward.”
Commissioner Ramsey began his law enforcement career in 1968 as a cadet with the Chicago Police Department. Over the next thirty years, he held various positions with CPD, including Commander of the Narcotics Division, Deputy Chief of the Patrol Division, and Deputy Superintendent, a role he held from 1994 to 1998. He played a key role in designing and implementing the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy that became a nationally acclaimed model of community policing.
In 1998, he was named Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC), where he served until early 2007 before becoming the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department.
“Commissioner Ramsey’s return to the Chicago Police Department is an opportunity to build on the important work we are undertaking to restore trust between the Department and Chicago’s residents,” said Acting Chicago Police Superintendent John Escalante. “I look forward to relying on his counsel and leadership.”
Commissioner Ramsey is the immediate past President of the Police Executive Research Forum and the Major Cities Chiefs Association. He also serves on the on the International Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Committee.
In January 2015, President Obama named Commissioner Ramsey the co-chair of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing as it worked to identify strategies to help strengthen police community relations across the country. He also serves on the United States Homeland Security Advisory Council, which provides advice and recommendations to the US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
A native of Chicago, Ramsey holds Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in criminal justice from Lewis University. The commissioner has received honorary doctorate degrees from four universities, including his Alma Mater.