Philly police commissioner staying put

April 6, 2011 8:11:10 PM PDT
Charles Ramsey, the man many considered front-runner for Chicago police superintendent, has decided to stay in Philadelphia.

Ramsey will remain the police commissioner there, even though he recently had a private meeting with Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel.

Ramsey was a Chicagoan at birth and remained a Chicagoan at heart, even after leaving the Chicago Police Department in 1998 to be police superintendent in Washington, D.C., and then Philadelphia. Now that Ramsey has chosen to remain there, the Chicago Police Derby is back on.

Late Wednesday, Mayor-elect Emanuel said applications are due to the police board on Monday and he looks forward to reviewing the candidates that the board selects.

"Last night I met with the mayor," Ramsey said. "I told him what I planned on doing, and as a result of our conversation and the experiences I've had in Philadelphia over the past three years, I'd like to just stay right here in Philadelphia."

With Ramsey's announcement, there were cheers to the east Wednesday, and in Chicago there were as well -- at least for those other candidates who now have a renewed chance to be police superintendent here.

Mayor-elect Emanuel has said he wants to have a police superintendent hired by his inauguration day, May 16.

Ramsey and former Los Angeles police chief William Bratton led the list of most prominent possibilities after Emanuel was elected. Both men are now out of the picture.

"The emotional toll and tug of the prospect of going back to your hometown, the place where you started, and to take on other challenges has been great, it has weighed on him, it has weighed on all of us, weighed on his family," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Now, some attention will again focus on Michael Shields, Michelle Obama's cousin with 21 years Chicago police experience, including time in the detective division as deputy chief from 2002 to 2008. In May of 2009, Shields was named security chief for the beleaguered Chicago Public Schools.

Although he declined to discuss it, Ramsey reportedly wanted $400,000 a year to take the job in Chicago, far more than ousted superintendent Jody Weis made.

"I wish Chicago the very best. I'm sure they'll find a great superintendent. I wish Mayor Emanuel the best. There was no decision I ever made that was any harder than the one I made now," Ramsey said.

As late as Tuesday night Ramsey was telling friends he was set to move back to Chicago even if he had to take less salary than he wanted. But then Philadelphia's mayor offered a $60,000 a year raise to stay put and that cinched it. Ramsey will now be paid $255,000 a year, which is within the range that Chicago is probably going to offer.

Mayor-elect Emanuel says he continues to identify the best candidate who "shares his philosophy that the beat officer is the backbone of the force."