Criminologists can provide “invaluable” information to police executives, but they should do their work promptly and make it understandable, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told the American Society of Criminology annual meeting in Philadelphia Tuesday. Ramsey, a former top police official in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, said criminologists sometimes take so long to finish their research that it may be too late to make significant changes in whatever program they were studying.
Ramsey noted that when he ran Chicago’s first community policing effort, he hired Northwestern University criminologist Wesley Skogan not only to do an extensive study of the program but also “give us feedback as we went along” on what was going right and wrong. He reflected on major shifts in his profession since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Even though he was police chief in the nation’s capital then, he didn’t have a federal security clearance at the time–something now expected of big-city chiefs. Ramsey also criticized police accountability that concentrates on holding local commanders responsible for crime increases in their areas. Ramsey said he believes in accountability, but “my style is not confrontational, not trying to embarrass” subordinates. Ramsey was “interviewed” by Police Executive Research Forum director Chuck Wexler at a session sponsored by Temple University.