Commissioner Ramsey not leaving Philly after all

Commissioner Charles Ramsey, right, makes remarks as Mayor Michael Nutter, left, looks on during a news conference at City Hall in Philadelphia, Thursday, May 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

April 7, 2011 7:09:12 AM PDT
There are now dueling stories over why Commissioner Ramsey is not on the road to being the top cop in his hometown of Chicago.

In a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Ramsey ended weeks of speculation that he would be leaving for the Windy City by announcing he would be staying in Philadelphia.

Ramsey said he had a conversation on Tuesday night with Mayor Michael Nutter when he made his decision.

"As a result of our conversations and the experiences I've had in Philadelphia over the past three years, I've elected to stay right here in Philadelphia," Ramsey said at the news conference.

In fact, the room broke out in applause as many people in attendance were caught by surprise.

Nutter went on to say he offered Ramsey a $60,000 pay raise. Ramsey's salary is one of the lowest among major-city police commissioners. That means his salary will increase from $195,000 to $255,000 per year.

"He did not request [the raise]. I offered it as part of our conversation and our discussion," said Nutter.

Ramsey said money had nothing to do with his decision. He said he realized he was blessed to have the team he works for, and that there was still much left to do in Philly.

"There was no decision I made that was any harder than the one I made now," said Ramsey.

However, on Thursday morning The Chicago Sun Times reported that Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel took Commissioner Ramsey out of the running for the job - not the other way around.

Ramsey would have made $310,000 in Chicago. Citing a source, the newspaper reports that he wanted more than what was offered, asking for a compensation package of more than $400,000. Rahm Emanuel found that unacceptable and took him out of the mix.

Chicago is where Ramsey began his law enforcement career more than 40 years ago.

Ramsey was appointed Police Commissioner by Mayor Nutter in January, 2008.

According to the Philadelphia Police Department website, Ramsey has overseen a nearly 14% reduction in violent crime in the city and a 22% reduction in homicides. Additionally, the homicide clearance rate is among the highest in the nation at 70%.

The Commissioner said he agonized over the decision for three weeks, saying this was the toughest decision he has ever had to make.

"There was a big part of me that wanted to go back," said the Commissioner, "a big part of me that wanted to go back."

Commissioner Ramsey is a third generation Chicagoan, and still has family and friends there. His wife is from there and many were urging him to do it.

"Talking to my family, friends and others didn't seem to help much," said Ramsey.

But he says it was something his son told him that made him think twice about leaving Philadelphia.

"He said that, 'Philly is a very, very, tough town, but once they open their arms to you, they do take you in,' and I feel Philly has opened its arms."

Ramsey says he realized how blessed he is to have the team of commanders he has at the department, the Mayor he works, for and says there is still work that remains to be done.

"This is still not the city that anyone can envision it to be 10 years from now, 5 years from now," said Ramsey. "It can be a lot better, a lot safer, and I want to be a part of that."


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