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For those of you who don’t follow the comings and goings of top officials at D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), be aware that former Chief Charles H. Ramsey is on the verge of taking over Philadelphia’s cop shop. That means it’s time for papers in Philly to review Ramsey’s tenure in the District.
Along comes a familiar face. Jonathan York did some cops reporting here at City Paper before moving to Philadelphia. In this week’s edition of the Philadelphia Weekly, York puts his new fellow citizens on alert via a featurey remembrance of Ramsey. The piece is titled “The Out-of-Towners” and carries this subhed: “Ramsey’s record worries this former D.C. reporter.”
Then York, who did plenty of fine work for this publication, slips into a mess of policing cliches and recycled petty gripes from rank-and-file cops. Here’s a sampling:
York Claim: “when Ramsey was in charge…he seemed to have one way of doing things. If there was a high-profile appearance (Bush speeches), a high-profile disappearance (Chandra Levy) or any action at all in well-developed parts of Northwest Washington, he brought a flood of blue and white.
But if there was a stabbing, a shooting or a beating in the neighborhoods—which there was almost every night—he hardly changed a thing.”
Reality: True that Ramsey was a PR genius. But the notion that he somehow didn’t care what happened in the “neighborhoods” is a strange, coded swipe that doesn’t hold up.
York Claim: “I once watched two officers run down a crack dealer who was driving a car with hot tags. As they stood on a curb near some open-air drug sales, they complained that nobody knows what they deal with every day. They had too much crime and not enough help. “
Reality: No. 1: So the cops stopped doing their job to gripe to you, Yorkie? They must have been good officers! No. 2: Yes, we know you were out there on the streets, man!
York Claim: “On the southeast side of Capitol Hill, where I lived, you could walk around the corner and see the Library of Congress 12 blocks away. The neighbors all worked for government, nonprofits or the media. But there were housing projects across the street, which meant that drug deals, muggings and gunshots disturbed our quiet block.”
Reality: Crime alongside federal icons! Novel concept there.
York Claim: “But I was surprised that some of the veterans had unreserved dislike for Ramsey, whom they believed was putting forces downtown at the expense of the neighborhoods.”
Reality: Officers are dumping on their chief. Fire up the headline.
York Claim: “Most people I knew in D.C. had been mugged, intimidated or followed.”
Reality: Followed? Just how exactly does that work?
C’mon York—you can do better than this.