Northeast Times

Ramsey tells Chamber NE burglaries on rise

Po­lice com­mish ad­dresses crime levels at Cham­ber of Com­merce lunch­eon.

Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey provides stat­ist­ics on Phil­adelphia crime trends and an­swers ques­tions. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

Crime in North­east Phil­adelphia and in the city as a whole is “mov­ing in the right dir­ec­tion,” ac­cord­ing to Phil­adelphia Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey. 

Dur­ing a lunch­eon last Tues­day hos­ted by the Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce, Ram­sey ad­dressed crime levels, an in­crease in res­id­en­tial burg­lary in the North­east and the re­cent string of of­ficer-in­volved shoot­ings.

Ram­sey told about 100 people who gathered at Know­lton Man­sion in Fox Chase that crime in Phil­adelphia was “down in every ma­jor cat­egory” ex­cept for sexu­al as­sault and rape.  The FBI re­cently broadened its defin­i­tion of “rape,” which Ram­sey said skewed this year’s stat­ist­ics to show an in­crease.

“I only throw that out there you that you have the con­text,” Ram­sey said. “That’s not to say it’s not a con­cern.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ram­sey, crime levels in the North­east, spe­cific­ally, also dropped since last year.

“The num­bers here mir­ror the num­bers I’ve men­tioned for the city,” Ram­sey said. 

Burg­lary is his “biggest con­cern” in North­east Phil­adelphia, he said. While com­mer­cial burg­lary is down, res­id­en­tial burg­lary in­creased com­pared to last year.

“We really do en­cour­age people to look out for each oth­er,” Ram­sey said, adding that res­id­ents should re­port any sus­pi­cious activ­it­ies in their neigh­bor­hoods to po­lice.

Ram­sey told the crowd that the re­cent string of of­ficer-in­volved shoot­ings in the city promp­ted him to ask the Justice De­part­ment’s Of­fice of Com­munity Ori­ented Poli­cing Ser­vices to re­view the De­part­ment’s policies con­cern­ing deadly force. 

Fifty-two sus­pects were shot by Phil­adelphia po­lice in 2012, an al­most 50 per­cent in­crease from the pre­vi­ous year. Of those shot, 15 sus­pects later died. 

He was quick to note that this was not part of a “civil rights in­vest­ig­a­tion,” but that he hopes the re­view con­duc­ted by COPS will al­le­vi­ate the con­cerns of watch­dog groups that have called in­to ques­tion the in­crease in po­lice shoot­ings.

May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter ini­tially was sched­uled to speak at the lunch­eon in­stead of Ram­sey, but a schedul­ing con­flict pre­ven­ted Nut­ter from at­tend­ing, mark­ing the third time this year that the may­or can­celed a planned speak­ing en­gage­ment with the GN­PCC. Event or­gan­izers, however, said that they were just as pleased to host Ram­sey. 

“When the may­or’s people told us he couldn’t make it, we jumped at the chance to get Ram­sey,” Kent Lufkin, Chair­man of the GN­PCC board of dir­ect­ors, said. “There has been a long and close re­la­tion­ship between the cham­ber and the po­lice.”

Dolly Train­er, dir­ect­or of de­vel­op­ment of the Cranaleith Spir­itu­al Cen­ter in Somer­ton, shared Lufkin’s sen­ti­ments.

“We’re very blessed to have him and to have the po­lice force to pro­tect the city,” Train­er said. “The risk they take for oth­er people is very im­port­ant.”

Ram­sey said that he was com­mit­ted to serving North­east Phil­adelphia, and that he ap­pre­ci­ates the re­la­tion­ship between busi­ness own­ers and the po­lice.

“Busi­ness is the lifeblood of a city, and it’s not just about Cen­ter City,” Ram­sey said. “The area served busi­ness in the North­east Cham­ber of Com­merce is crit­ic­ally im­port­ant to us.”

The com­mis­sion­er also spoke about heightened se­cur­ity at large events, which he said was more im­port­ant than ever in light of the re­cent bomb at­tacks at the Bo­ston Mara­thon.

“I’m very im­pressed at how Phil­adelphi­ans are step­ping up,” Ram­sey said, not­ing that the po­lice de­part­ment has re­ceived an in­creased num­ber of calls about sus­pi­cious items or activ­it­ies since the bomb­ings.

Dur­ing a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion after end­ing the lunch­eon, Ram­sey ad­dressed the re­cent Su­preme Court de­cision al­low­ing DNA swab­bing for people un­der ar­rest. When asked if the Phil­adelphia Po­lice De­part­ment would take ad­vant­age of the now-con­sti­tu­tion­al po­lice prac­tice, Ram­sey said, “Ab­so­lutely.”

“I was very pleased and a bit sur­prised,” Ram­sey said of the rul­ing. “I think it’s go­ing to help us get a lot of bad guys off the street.” ••

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