By Patrick M. O'Connell
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday that a Chicago native once passed over for top cop will return to help guide civil rights reforms in the Chicago Police Department.
Recently retired Philadelphia police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, an architect of the Chicago department's community policing program, will return to advise city leaders on policies, training and accountability when it comes to the use of force, interactions with people with mental illness and community policing, the city said in a statement Sunday. Ramsey lost bids in 1992 and 1998 to become police superintendent in Chicago.
"Hopefully, we will begin to make progress, make inroads, in many communities where relationships are strained," said Ramsey, who grew up in Englewood.
Ramsey, 65, said he believes Emanuel and police commanders "have a sense of urgency" about making improvements.
"I wouldn't be a part of this if I didn't think their efforts were sincere," Ramsey said.
Ramsey will be paid $350 per hour as a consultant, the mayor's office said. He plans to begin work Monday, participating in a conference call with officials in Chicago. Ramsey, who lives in Philadelphia, also plans to frequently travel to Chicago to work with police officers, community members and the U.S. Justice Department, which announced a review of the department in December in the wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald video.
"Commissioner Ramsey is not only a national leader in urban policing who has led two major police departments through civil rights reforms -- he is also a native Chicagoan who knows our Police Department and our communities," Emanuel said in a statement. "With roots in Englewood, he has a unique understanding of the important role community relationships play in making our city safer."
Ramsey said he was not interested in the open Chicago police superintendent job, instead preferring to focus his attention helping police departments work on rebuilding trust with communities. He also recently was hired as a consultant in Wilmington, Del.
The Justice Department will be reviewing the Police Department's practices in Chicago, the type of investigation that has led to federal court oversight and sweeping reforms in other troubled big-city police departments throughout the country. Emanuel initially called the idea "misguided," then reversed his opposition to align with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, both of whom already had called for the Justice Department to act.
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