Tony Williams Would Fire Chuck Ramsey and Mayor Nutter Thinks That’s Stupid

He says anyone who'd ditch the popular top cop "is probably not smart enough to lead the city."

L to R: Michael Nutter and Anthony Williams | Photos by Matt Rourke/AP

L to R: Mayor Michael Nutter and state Sen. Anthony Williams | Photos by Matt Rourke/AP and

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter rushed to defend Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey’s honor after two mayoral candidates said they would fire him during a televised debate Tuesday.

The Daily NewsStephanie Farr reports that Nutter made the comments at a memorial service for fallen police officers and firefighters.

State Sen. Anthony Williams said at Tuesday’s debate, which aired on 6ABC, that Ramsey is a “fine man,” but that “people have to be replaced when they stand for a policy that people don’t trust.” He was referring to the police department’s stop-and-frisk tactic, which critics say unfairly targets African-Americans and Latinos.

Ex-con and former state Sen. Milton Street also said he would boot Ramsey. Former City Councilman Jim Kenney and former District Attorney Lynne Abraham said they would keep him.

In criticizing Ramsey, Williams seems to be trying to differentiate himself from Kenney, who is leading the mayor’s race, according to internal polling.

But is it wise to attack Ramsey? In a poll commissioned by Nutter earlier this year, a whopping 75 percent of respondents said they approved of Ramsey’s job performance. That was higher than Nutter’s approval rating of 57 percent.

The fact that Williams is willing to throw a Hail Mary pass like this indicates that Kenney may be as ahead in the race as the recent polls conducted by super PACs supporting him say. It also suggests that Williams — who is already attacking Kenney in a TV ad over controversial past remarks on policing — is betting his campaign on the belief that a lot of voters are angry enough about police abuses in Philadelphia and elsewhere to turn out in large numbers to vote for the guy most willing to shake up the city’s police department.

Williams said in a statement Wednesday that he understands and respects that Nutter is defending Ramsey, but he simply disagrees with him.

“This is not about personality. It’s about policy,” said Williams. “Mayor Nutter ran to implement stop-and-frisk. I am running to end it. Chief Ramsey was Mayor Nutter’s pick to implement it. In order to transform the culture of the police department, there needs to be a change. And that change starts at the top.”

This post has been updated to include Williams’ statement.