The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) has presented its 2007 Leadership Award to former Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey.
The Leadership Award is presented annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of law enforcement, who exemplifies the highest principles and standards of a true leader in policing on a national level. The award recognizes innovators whose efforts serve as a model to the law enforcement community and whose vision of policing can be applied on a wide scale.
Chief Ramsey demonstrated those Leadership Award qualities during his tenure at the Chicago Police Department, where he began his career in 1968, and at the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., where he served as chief from 1998 to 2006.
In Chicago, Ramsey began as a police cadet at age 18 and worked his way up through the ranks, eventually serving as commander of patrol, detectives, and narcotics units, and managing the Chicago Police Department’s programs in education and training, research and development, labor affairs, crime prevention, and other functions. He also played a key role in designing and implementing the Chicago Alternative Policing (CAP) Strategy, a nationally acclaimed model of community policing. (For his role in bringing community policing to Chicago, in 1994 Ramsey was awarded PERF’s other major honor—the Gary P. Hayes Award, which is given to “up and coming” police leaders.)
In Washington, D.C., Ramsey was named chief at a time when the Washington Post was publishing a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles singling out the city’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) as having one of the highest rates of deadly force use among major police departments in the country.
Instead of waiting for the U.S. Justice Department to begin an investigation, Chief Ramsey acknowledged that the MPD had major problems in policy, training and accountability, and he contacted the Justice Department to ask for help in addressing the problems. Chief Ramsey then reengineered all of those areas, and the result was that the number of officer-involved shootings dropped substantially. Today the MPD’s policies on use of force are held up as models that other departments, both in the United States and abroad, come to learn about.
“Many people talk about Chuck Ramsey’s talents in reducing crime and managing the use of force in a police department,” said PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler. “But perhaps his most significant long-term accomplishment was giving the officers a sense of pride and developing the next generation of leaders in the MPD—which will help ensure that what Ramsey started will be sustained in the coming decades.”
The Police Executive Research Forum is a Washington, D.C.-based national membership organization of progressive police executives from the largest city, county and state law enforcement agencies. PERF is dedicated to improving policing and advancing professionalism through research and involvement in public policy debate. For additional information, go to www.policeforum.org.