Early in his tenure, Ramsey recognized the need to update the department's hot-pursuit policy after two officers in separate incidents - Isabel Nazario and Timothy Simpson - were killed in 2008 when their cruisers were hit by suspects fleeing police. The more restrictive policy calls for patrol officers to stay in constant contact with supervisors monitoring speed, road conditions, and the chase's duration.
The latest move by Ramsey could save the city money that might otherwise be spent fighting litigation, and it will keep the city force from having to pay for a federal monitor. The commissioner and Department of Justice are instead working cooperatively to analyze and make changes to the police's deadly-force policy.
Ramsey asked federal authorities to review his officers' use of deadly force after a Philly.com article in May reported that the number of police-involved shootings in Philadelphia had risen 50 percent to its highest point in a decade. Police responding to calls for reported crimes shot 52 suspects in 2012, compared with 35 shot in 2011. Of those shot in 2012, 15 people died. Final figures for 2013 were being compiled.
The commissioner had initially speculated that the increase in police shootings might be due to an increase in the number of suspects who are armed. However, statistics showed the total number of all assaults on police officers dropped from 912 to 896 in 2012, and the instances in which shots were fired at police fell from 12 in 2010 to 3 in 2012.
Policy changes made by the Las Vegas Police Department, which similarly decided to collaborate with the Justice Department after police-shooting complaints there, include a Force Review Board made up of four citizens and three commissioned police officers, as well as more training on how to deal with the mentally ill and suicidal persons.
Among the ideas for here that the Justice Department and Ramsey should consider is restoring the civilian position of integrity officer for the Police Department. That job has been vacant since 2005, when Common Pleas Judge Ellen Green-Ceisler left it. Ceisler frequently clashed with then-Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson, but Ramsey's penchant for reform should make him a better partner to improve the quality of policing by his officers.