Williams announces plan to remove police chief if elected

Sam Newhouse

“Anyone who is not smart enough to ask [Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey] to stay is probably not smart enough to run the city of Philadelphia,” Mayor Michael Nutter declared Wednesday at a memorial event to pay tribute to to fallen police and firefighters.

The comment seemed a pointed response to mayoral candidate and state senator Tony Williams’ declaration at the final mayoral debate Tuesday evening that, if elected, he would not ask Ramsey to return as police commissioner.

In comments praising Ramsey, Nutter cited Ramsey’s work for President Barack Obama as co-chair for the 21st Century policing task force, the city’s drop in homicides of 37 percent since 2007, before Nutter was elected and appointed Ramsey, and the drop of violent crimes to their lowest levels since 1985.

But on Wednesday afternoon Williams doubled down on his comments in a press conference in Dilworth Park.

“Mayor Nutter ran to implement stop-and-frisk. I am running to end it,” Williams said. “Chief Ramsey was Mayor Nutter’s pick to implement it. In order to transform the culture of the police department, there needs to be a change. And that change starts at the top.”

Williams previously didn’t take such a strong stance on Ramsey, telling the Inquirer the decision of whether to stay or go would be up to Ramsey.

His mind changed, he said, because “I listened to moms and young men — college-educated, African-American young men who broke down in tears talking about stop and frisk.”

Williams said the practice hurts community-police relations and creates a “credibility gap among those who are most affected by stop-and-frisk and those who are crying out for it to end, African-American mothers and sons.”

Apparentfrontrunner and former city councilman Jim Kenney has said the decision of whether to remain after Nutter’s term ends would be up to Ramsey, and that he also wants to end stop-and-frisk.

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