Charles H. Ramsey
Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation
Charles H. Ramsey was appointed Police Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department on January 7, 2008, by Mayor Michael A. Nutter. He retired in January 2016 after serving 8 years as Commissioner and leading the fourth largest police department in the nation with over 6,600 sworn members and 830 civilian members. Commissioner Ramsey brings over forty-six years of knowledge, experience and service in advancing the law enforcement profession in three different major city police departments, beginning with Chicago, then Washington, DC, and now Philadelphia.
Commissioner Ramsey has been at the forefront of developing innovative policing strategies and leading organizational change for the past 24 years. He is an internationally-recognized practitioner and educator in his field, and is the Immediate Past President of both the Police Executive Research Forum and the Major Cities Chiefs Association. He is the only law enforcement professional to have served as President of both prominent organizations at the same time and is the only police professional to receive the Leadership Award from 3 major law enforcement organizations; the FBI National Executive Institute, Police Executive Research Forum and the Major Cities Chiefs Association. In December 2014, following several high profile incidents involving police use of force, President Barrack Obama chose Commissioner Ramsey to serve as co-chair of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. In recognition for his contributions to the field of policing and public safety, he has been awarded Honorary Doctorate Degrees from four universities.
During his eight years as Police Commissioner in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police Department made significant progress in driving down violent crime in the city. With a renewed focus on evidence-based policing initiatives, organizational accountability and a neighborhood-based policing strategy, Philadelphia has seen nearly a 20% reduction in violent crime and a 37% reduction in homicides. In 2014, Philadelphia experienced its lowest violent crime rate since 1985.The end of 2015 marked the first time since 1969 the City of Philadelphia had fewer than 300 homicides for three consecutive years.
In 2007, Charles H. Ramsey was a security consultant to the Washington, D.C. Convention Center and the United States Senate Sergeant of Arms. During that year, he also served on the Independent Commission on Security Forces of Iraq, led by the former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps and National Security Advisor General James L. Jones. Ramsey headed a prominent group of law enforcement professionals that traveled across Iraq to review the state of Iraqi police forces for a report to the United States Congress, an effort which garnered international attention and praise.
Commissioner Ramsey served as the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, District of Columbia (MPDC) from April 21, 1998 to January 1, 2007. He was the longest-serving chief of the MPDC since DC Home Rule and the second longest serving in Department history. Under then 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 dramatic upgraded. He also oversaw and participated in numerous high profile investigations and events in Washington DC, such as: The 1998 murders of two United States Capitol Police officers inside the U.S. Capitol Building; The Y2K National Celebration in Washington, DC; The International Monetary Fund/World Bank Protests in April, 2000; The Chandra Levy Murder Investigation, The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, The 2001 Anthrax Attacks; The 2002 DC Sniper Investigation; The funeral of President Ronald W. Reagan and the 2001 and 2005 Presidential Inaugurations.
As head of the 4,400-member Metropolitan Police Department, Commissioner Ramsey worked to improve police services, enhance public confidence in the police, and bring down the District of Columbia's crime rate. He also oversaw a multi-million dollar upgrade to district stations and other Department facilities, as well as new communications and information technology, including mobile data computing and the 3-1-1 non-emergency system.
In the area of community policing, Commissioner Ramsey redefined the Department's mission to focus on crime prevention. Policing for Prevention, the Department's community policing strategy, encompasses focused law enforcement, neighborhood-based partnerships and problem solving, and systemic prevention efforts. The strategy is supported not only by enhanced training for officers and supervisors, but also by a unique community training initiative called Partnerships for Problem Solving as well as a Senior Citizen Police Academy. The MPDC received international acclaim for its handling of major events, and the Department took a number of steps to address the continued threat of terrorism in the Nation's Capital.
The result of these and other initiatives was a dramatic reduction in crime in the District of Columbia under Commissioner Ramsey’s tenure. Violent crime in DC was at its lowest level since the current method of reporting statistics was first developed in the late 1960s. At the same time, opinion surveys indicated that public confidence in the MPDC rose under Commissioner Ramsey's leadership.
In 1999, Commissioner Ramsey partnered with the Anti-Defamation League in developing an innovative and experiential training program at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum called “Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons from the Holocaust.” By examining the Holocaust, law enforcement personnel gain insights into the critical importance of their profession’s core values, as well as the significant and unique role they play within our democracy. More than 100,000 people have gone through this program, including every new agent in the FBI, state and federal judges and police personnel from agencies nationally and internationally. In 2013, as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association he partnered with the Teleos Leadership Institute to create the Police Executive Leadership Institute, a program specifically designed to develop the next generation of police leaders. In 2015, Commissioner Ramsey partnered with the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia developing an innovative training for police called “Policing in a More Perfect Union.” This educational program is designed to help police officers better understand the history of policing in the United States and the importance of building legitimacy and trust in the communities they serve.
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. He became a police officer in February 1971, and was promoted through the ranks, eventually serving as commander of patrol, detectives and narcotics units. In 1994, he was named Deputy Superintendent of the Bureau of Staff Services, where he managed the department's education and training, research and development, labor affairs, crime prevention and professional counseling functions.
Commissioner Ramsey was instrumental in designing and implementing the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, the city's nationally acclaimed model of community policing. As co-manager of the CAPS project in Chicago, Commissioner Ramsey was one of the principal authors of the police department's strategic vision. He also designed and implemented the CAPS operational model and helped to develop new training curricula and communications efforts to support implementation. During his career in Chicago, he received numerous awards including twelve Department Commendations and more than 100 Honorable Mentions for excellence in police work.
In July 2009 Commissioner Ramsey was appointed as a member of the Cambridge Review Committee, a national independent committee to help identify lessons learned from the arrest of Harvard Professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He was asked in the fall of 2011, by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, to serve on the new Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety, and exclusive group of renowned scholars and practitioners, who convened meetings over a three year period to set the public policy agenda for the policing profession for the next two decades. He is also a member of the Executive Committee for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Commissioner Ramsey serves on the National Homeland Security Advisory Council and is also an advisor to the FBI’s National Executive Institute. He has served previously as the Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee for both the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Chiefs Association.
Commissioner Ramsey holds both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in criminal justice from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the National Executive Institute. He completed the Executive Leadership Program at the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security in February 2008.
Commissioner Ramsey has lectured nationally on community policing as an adjunct faculty member of both the Northwestern University Traffic Institute's School of Police Staff and Command and Lewis University, and is seen as an expert in the area of policing and homeland security. He is currently a Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University and serves as an advisor to several police departments including Chicago, Cleveland, University of Cincinnati and Wilmington, Delaware. He also has worked with the Police Executive Research Forum and police departments in the United Kingdom, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Police on the West Bank.
In December 2015, the City of Philadelphia named the Philadelphia Police Department Training Academy Auditorium the Charles H. Ramsey Training and Education Auditorium. A U.S. Postage Stamp bearing his likeness was approved by the United States Congress and presented by the United States Postal Inspector Philadelphia Division in his honor.
His honors include the following:
- Gary P. Hayes Award, from the Police Executive Research Forum, 1994
- Resolution Honoring Charles H. Ramsey, Presented by the Honorable Mayor Richard M. Daley, City of Chicago, April 29, 1998
- McDonald’s Black History Maker Award, 2000
- The Webber Seavey Award for Quality in Law Enforcement, Presented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2000
- United States Secret Service Honor Award, Presented by the Department of the Treasury for the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Spring Conference, 2000
- Award of Appreciation, Presented by Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers for the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Spring Conference Meetings, 2000
- Robert Lamb Humanitarian Award, from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), 2001
- Sigmund Livingston Award, from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 2001
- Award of Gratitude, from the Navy Family, Pentagon, 2001
- Civil Rights Award, from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), 2001 & 2005
- Parents Family and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) Award, 2002
- John Carroll Society Medal, from the Archdiocese of Washington, 2003
- Washington, DC, Pigskin Club Award for crime reduction, 2003
- Paul Harris Fellow Award, from the Rotary Club of Greater Washington, 2005
- Outstanding Service Award, Georgetown Business and Professional Association, 2005
- Civic Leadership Award, from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (including the creation of an internship program in the Chief's name), 2005
- Graduate of the FBI’s Leadership in Counterterrorism Program, 2006, part of the FBI’s Leadership Development Institute; Co-sponsored by the FBI, the Scottish Police College, Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Myrtle Wreath Award, from Greater Washington Area Chapter of Hadassah, 2006
- Jim Brady Law Enforcement Award from the Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence, 2006
- Police Fund’s Creation of the Charles H. Ramsey Scholarship, 2006
- Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Innovations in American Government Award, 2006
- Golden Links Award, Presented by the Washington, DC Board of Trade, 2006
- Leadership in Policing Award, from the Police Executive Research Forum, 2007
- Honoring Charles H. Ramsey, United States Senate, Congressional Record, 110th Congress (Vol. 153, No. 21), February 5, 2007
- The Police Officer Jamie A. Roussey Annual Award, 2008, Presented by the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Baltimore Police Department
- John M. Penrith Leadership Award, from the FBI and Major Cities Chiefs National Executive Institute, 2008
- Presidential Award of Appreciation for Support during the 2009 Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States
- Pennsylvania Chapter, National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice Award
- Polish Police Association of Philadelphia, Person of the Year Award, 2009
- Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation Legion of Honor Gold Medallion, 2009
- Emma Sloat Rendell Memorial Educational Award, Congregation Beth Solomon Community Center & European Immigrant Benevolent Association, 2009
- Bell of Hope Award, Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 2009
- Person of the Year Award, Shomrim of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, 2009
- Keys and Sword Award, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, 2009
- Mothers-in-Charge Peace Award, 2009
- Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors’ Bureau Annual Bring-it-Home Champion, 2009
- Thomas Jefferson Award, Citizen’s Crime Commission, Philadelphia, 2010
- Inducted Honoree and Member of the Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame, George Mason University, August 2010
- 5th Annual CADEKids (Corporate Alliance for Drug Education) Community Service Award, Philadelphia, 2010
- PennJerDel Citizens of the Year Award, November 2010
- Mu Omega Chapter, Citizen of the Year Award, November 2010
- Michael Shanahan Award for Excellence in Public/Private Cooperation, International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2010
- Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Award, International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2010
- Man of the Year Award, Police Chiefs Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 2011
- President’s Volunteer Service Award, President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, 2011
- Governor’s Citation, State of Maryland, March 26, 2011, Presented by Governor Martin O’Malley
- Camden County Police Chiefs Association Award for Support of New Jersey Law Enforcement, April 2011,
- Saint Joseph’s University, Graduate School Support Award, October 2011
- Saint Thomas Episcopal Church, Shepherds of Christ Award, December 2011
- Office of the United States Secretary of Defense, Patriotic Employer Award, 2011
- Atlantic County, New Jersey, Lifesaver Award, March 2012
- Anti-Defamation League Philadelphia, Leadership Award, March 2012
- Guardians of Freedom Award, Jewish Community Foundation Prescott, AZ. September 2013
- Hero of Justice Award, Pennsylvania Innocence Project, May 2014
- Peace Islands Institute, Law Enforcement Appreciation Award, May 2014
- Named one of the 75 Most Influential People by Philadelphia Magazine 2014
- Named Co-Chair of President’s Task Force on 21st Century Community Policing, December 2014
- Ye Olde Philadelphia Civic Award, January 2015
- Philadelphia Maneto Award, Partners of Civic Pride, March 2015
- Rotary International of Philadelphia, Paul Harris Fellow Award, October 2015
- Major Cities Chiefs Leadership Award, October 2015
- Asian American Federation Leadership Award, November 2015
- U.S. Postage Stamp Special Recognition Stamp printed in his honor, United States Postal Inspector Philadelphia Division, December 2015
- City of Philadelphia officially named the Philadelphia Police Department Training Academy Auditorium the Charles H Ramsey Training and Education Auditorium, December 2015
- Community Service Award, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, January 2016
- Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, Neumann University
- Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, Gwynedd-Mercy College
- Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa, Lewis University
- Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, Drexel University