Former Philly police commish takes hits in Wilmington mayoral race

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Eight candidates

Eight candidates

Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has become a hot topic in Wilmington, Delaware.

Ramsey’s consulting work with the Wilmington Police was called into question by candidates hoping to unseat incumbent Mayor Dennis Williams.

In January, just a few weeks after retiring in Philadelphia, Charles Ramsey signed a $112,000 contract to work as a public safety consultant for the Wilmington Police Department. Part of that work involved implementing recommendations of President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force.

In the months since, Mayor Dennis Williams decision to bring Ramsey in has drawn criticism from his political opponents. That criticism was voiced earlier this week during a WHYY-sponsored debate featuring all eight candidates running for mayor.

City Council President Theo Gregory was asked if he would continue the relationship with Ramsey if he were elected. “Your question assumes that I would know what chief Ramsey does, so I don’t know what Chief Ramsey does, so I can’t answer your question in that way.”

Former Wilmington City councilman Kevin Kelley, who was leading the most recent poll for mayor, said he would not continue a relationship with Ramsey. “I’ve seen Chief Ramsey one time at a public safety committee meeting when he came into town, and that’s the last time I’ve ever seen him. You can ask anyone in this audience if they’ve seen him and I’ll bet you won’t get less than 10 people.”

But Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings says there’s a reason Kelley and others haven’t seen Ramsey. “They haven’t been in the places where I’ve been where we’ve been meeting,” Cummings said. “He was brought here to consult with me and not with them. so he was consulting on police matters not political matters.”

Chief Cummings says he’s met with Ramsey in person in Wilmington “too many times to count.” He says they talk weekly about Wilmington police matters.

Candidate Mike Purzycki, though, questioned what the city got for the money spent to bring Ramsey to Wilmington. The public has a tough time understanding how we can spend $120,000 dollars for no results.”

Chief Cummings says the money was “absolutely” well spent.

“We’ve gotten his expertise on matters as it relates to policing, in terms of how you deploy officer, areas that we should look at in terms of how we were utilizing officers on an overtime basis,” Cummings said. “And what the focus should be as it relates to crime in the city.”

While Ramsey’s contract is up at the end of the month, there’s no doubt crime will remain the main issue in the mayor’s race.

Wilmington voters will pick their next mayor in the September 13th Democratic primary vote. No Republicans are running.

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You can watch the Wilmington mayoral debate on WHYY-TV on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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