Ramsey shakes up police department

May 1, 2008 8:59:52 PM PDT
Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey on Thursday announced a major reorganization of the department's command structure and the addition of nearly 250 officers on street patrols, part of a crime-fighting strategy he said was already showing results. Compared to the same period last year, murders citywide are down 24 percent, from 135 to 102, and shooting victims are down 25 percent, from 560 to 418.

The shake-up adds 248 officers to patrols in the nine most violent police districts.

In those nine targeted districts, where Ramsey began increasing police manpower earlier this year, the reductions were larger: a 40 percent drop in homicides and a 30 percent decrease in shooting victims.

"These are obviously indications of progress," Mayor Michael Nutter said, but "they are far from what they should be, and we are not satisfied."

Some of the new patrol officers are recent police academy graduates, while others come from specialized units that have been disbanded and absorbed by other units.

Dozens of department captains and inspectors are affected by the shake-up, which Ramsey said would increase accountability and improve the flow of information between departments.

"What I have here is a management team," Ramsey said, a group of new deputy commissioners standing on both sides of him. He added that he would not name a second-in-command because "I'm the one accountable."

The 6,600-member force needs more "generalists" - uniformed officers on the streets who will be highly visible in neighborhoods and can quickly respond to any type of crime, he said.

To that end, the Strategic Intervention Tactical Unit was disbanded and its 49 officers were redeployed to district patrols.

The Narcotics Strike Force's 135 officers also were moved to patrol duty, where they will respond to a variety of crimes.

"People need to feel safe and secure. People are just inundated constantly with violence," he said. "They want to see cops out there on the street."