Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey

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 eight years as Commissioner and leading the fourth largest police department in the nation with over 6,600 sworn members and 830 civilian members.  He brings over fifty 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 Philadelphia. 

Commissioner Ramsey has been at the forefront of developing innovative policing strategies and leading organizational change for the past 25 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 of his contributions to the field of policing and public safety, he has been awarded Honorary Doctorate Degrees from four universities and served as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Drexel Universities Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation. In 2016, Commissioner Ramsey was a speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. In January 2017, Commissioner Ramsey became a law enforcement analyst for Turner Broadcasting news outlet, CNN. He was appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to serve as Chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and Chairman of the PA School Safety Committee. In August 2019, Governor Wolf appointed him to serve as his Senior Advisor for Gun Violence Prevention. He is currently Principal Deputy Monitor overseeing Federal Consent Decrees in Baltimore and Cleveland and is a Distinguished Policy Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. He is a Founding Partner in the consulting firm 21st Century Policing Solutions, LLC.

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 25% 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 2014, the Philadelphia Police Department was accredited by the Southeastern Association of Chiefs of Police.

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. He headed a prominent group of law enforcement professionals that traveled across Iraq to review the state of Iraqi police forces and submitted a report to the United States Congress. 

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 recruiting, 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 9/11Terrorist Attacks, The 2001 Anthrax Attacks; The 2002 DC Sniper Investigation; The funeral of Presidents Ronald W. Reagan and Gerald R. Ford 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, problem-solving, and systemic prevention efforts. The strategy was 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 several 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 and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in developing an innovative and experiential training program called “Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons from the Holocaust.” As a result of this experience, law enforcement personnel understand 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 helps police officers better understand the history of p
olicing 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 promoted to Deputy Superintendent and 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, He served as a member of the Cambridge Review Committee. An independent national committee to help identify lessons learned from the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In 2010 he oversaw the Kensington Strangler investigation, which resulted in the arrest of Antonio Rodriguez convicted of the strangulation murders of three prostitutes in Philadelphia’s Kensington District.  In 2011 he served as a member of the Kennedy School of Government Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety. A group of renowned scholars and practitioners, who convened meetings over three years to set the public policy agenda for the policing profession for the next two decades. He was a member of the Executive Committee for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, served on the National Homeland Security Advisory Council, and is also an advisor to the FBI’s National Executive Institute. He has served as the Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee for both the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Chiefs Association. He currently serves as an advisor to the United States Conference of Mayors. In November 2016, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council.

He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, and 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 an expert in the area of policing and homeland security. He was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University and served as an advisor to several police departments including Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Grand Rapids, MI, Los Angeles, Sacramento, CA, University of Cincinnati, Miami Gardens 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. The United States Congress approved a U.S. Postage Stamp bearing his likeness presented by the United States Postal Inspector Philadelphia Division in his honor. In October 2018, he delivered the keynote address at the Grand Opening of the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, D.C.

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

  • The 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

  • Washington, D.C. Police Foundation’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 F
    orum, 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 CADE Kids (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

  • Anti-Defamation League Gorowitz Institute Award, 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

  • The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute, Leader of the Future Award, October 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

  • Mothers in Charge Award renaming their Next of Kin program in honor of Charles H. Ramsey, December 2015

  • U.S. Postage Stamp Special Recognition Stamp printed in his honor, United States Postal Inspector Philadelphia Division, December 2015

  • The 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

  • FBI Directors Medallion, 2016

  • The United States Asian American Federation Award of Honor, 2016

  • National Law Enforcement Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016

  • Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Drexel University Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, 2016

  • Philadelphia Police Athletic League Leadership Award, 2017

  • Distinguished Speaker Award, National Association of Arbitrators, 2019

  • Distinguished Policy Fellow, University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law, 2020

  • 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