Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has renewed the call by law enforcement organizations for a national commission to assess crime and justice in the United States. Speaking to the opening session of the International Association of Chiefs of Police on Saturday in his home city, Ramsey noted that the last such panel was convened in the 1960s by President Lyndon Johnson. “Every 50 years we need to stop and look at where we are,” Ramsey said. He noted that most other major national U.S. law enforcement groups had endorsed such a commission.
The IACP supported a proposal by former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) to create a commission on criminal justice, but it fell three votes short of the number necessary to approve it in the Senate in the last Congress. Currently, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has proposed a commission to study the federal criminal justice system. In other remarks Saturday, Ramsey said that sufficient community resources must be assembled to provide services to inmates released in a drive by many advocates on both the left and right to reduce U.S. prison populations, or law enforcement’s “hard efforts to reduce crime may disappear.” Ramsey also said he expects increasing public demands to review use of discretion by police officers, as evident by criticism of the use of stop-and-frisk techniques in New York City and elsewhere. The IACP convention continues through Wednesday.