Speaking Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention, former Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey said that growing tensions between police officers and communities of color have pushed him towards a choice in the upcoming presidential election.
“The bonds between law enforcement and communities are frayed. But we can’t play to America’s worst fears. We need to champion our greatest hopes,” Ramssey said. “Hillary Clinton will build bridges between communities and police. And ladies and gentleman, that’s better than building walls.”
Ramsey stepped down from his post as Philadelphia’s top cop at the end of 2015. During his tenure as Philadelphia’s top cop, eight police officers were shot to death in the line of duty. The list gets longer when counting his time in Chicago and D.C.
“I’ve mourned far too many officers killed by guns, and as a nation, we’ve mourned far too many innocent people that have fallen victim to gun violence.”
Ramsey said grief over these deaths is not enough.
“We need a strong, steady leader to stop the bloodshed, a leader that’ll protect our officers from being outgunned by weapons of war, and to rebuild the bonds between police and communities. That’s why I’m with Hillary Clinton.”
Ramsey called for a federal mandate expanding background checks for gun purchase, as well as a ban on the sale of assault rifles.
After the deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, President Obama tapped Ramsey to co-chair his task force on 21st century policing, which recommended ways to improve relations between police and the communities they serve.
The Philadelphia Police Department has implemented many of them, but some have garnered pushback from the Fraternal Order of Police.