Ramsey, Nutter Open Policing Panel
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is chairing meetings on the president’s task force on “21st century policing” this week — the task force created after police controversies in Ferguson and New York triggered nationwide protests —and Mayor Nutter was one of the first witnesses on Tuesday.
Metro reports that Nutter touted the drop in the murder rate on his watch:
Nutter said that soon after he took office in 2008 he and Ramsey instituted a community policing strategy in the hopes of changing the image of the city’s police force.
“Police could not be seen as an occupying force,” Nutter said. “They could not ostracize or treat our citizens with contempt, and the could not just drive-by in their vehicles allowing for little to no interaction with our citizens.”
He said that type of hands-off policing does not help foster interpersonal relationships or trust between citizens and police.
The new strategy included training officers, increased foot policing, and greater community engagement.
“There needed to be an end to an ‘Us versus Them’ mentality,” Nutter said.
President Obama announced the task force as massive demonstrations sprouted in cities across the country, protesting two high-profile grand jury decisions not to indict police officers involved in the deaths of unarmed men. The group must submit a report to the president by March 2.
“It’s an enormous task, but one that’s very doable in my opinion,” said Charles Ramsey, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department and co-chair the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Chair of the task force, Ramsey believes it can be done through practicing community policing and showing respect to citizens.
“We have to get back to our roots in terms of serving community, respecting community,” Ramsey told NBC10. “Not new ideas, but something we have to reinforce and get back to.”
In an interview after his testimony, he acknowledged that tensions among rank-and-file officers and activists are high, but he said there are national solutions to be found. They might take some time to go into effect however.
“It’s clearly possible to recommend a change. Change is not going to happen in 90 days,” Nutter said. “I think the president was smart, given the situation in the country right now, to not have a six-month, a nine-month a year-long process. Because that’s just more frustration. Look, we know what a lot of these issues are all about. This is nowhere near rocket science. This is not even science. It’s just common sense. So we know what the [issues] are. Put it together, get it out there, let the public know that we’re really serious about it.”
The task force meets next on Jan. 21.