When Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review his department’s use of force policy, he not only paved the way for long needed reforms, but also shrewdly saved himself potential headaches and the city millions of dollars, says Philly.com. The website found the number of police-involved shootings in 2012 had jumped nearly 50 percent to reach the highest point in more than a decade despite a decline in violent crime and assaults on officers during the same period.
By inviting DOJ to work with the department, instead of waiting for the feds to take action, Ramsey headed off what could have been forced changes and years of oversight. By taking the first step, the department is also likely to avoid court involvement and potential embarrassment. Ramsey said he is the first to pursue such “collaborative reform” with the DOJ’s division of Community Oriented Police Services. “It’s better this way. There’s no question about that,” Ramsey said. “[When] you get the courts involved and then you get all these unfunded mandates, it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.” Philadelphia has had one of the nation’s highest rates of shootings by police. When measured against violent crime, Philadelphia, more often than not, has topped other major cities for which data was available: Dallas, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York City.