Former Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey called for more commonsense measures to address gun violence to protect both police officers and the public at large Wednesday night on stage at the Democratic National Convention.
"I'm here to say we need more than grieving to protect our law enforcement officers and to serve the memory of those heroes who have fallen,” Ramsey told the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center. “We need commonsense measures to reduce gun violence. Police need these commonsense measures and a leader who will fight for them."
Ramsey told a story about growing up in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, and how both a family friend and a police officer were shot dead just 50 yards from his home just a few years apart. His brother’s best friend was killed for refusing to join a gang, he said, while the officer was filling out a police report in his patrol car when he was murdered by three gang members.
"Gun violence isn't unique to Englewood. It continues to visit neighborhoods across the United States,” Ramsey said. "During my years in policing, I've seen the crime scenes. I've seen the grieving families, including families of police officers that were killed. I've seen the costs of gun violence. Now more than ever, we need a strong and 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."
Last week Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police slammed Clinton over the lineup for the DNC, saying in a statement that they didn’t see any widows or family members of slain police officers on the initial itinerary for planned speakers at the DNC. However, when asked officials with the Democratic National Convention Committee told NBC10 that Ramsey as well as Joe Sweeney, a detective with the NYPD who dug through the rubble of the World Trade Center to search for survivors on September 11, 2001, were scheduled to speak at the convention.
Sweeney spoke Tuesday about 9/11 first responders and their fight for health benefits.
Ramsey was credited for a drop in violent crime in Philadelphia during his tenure, during which he emphasized community policing strategies. He was tapped by President Barack Obama in 2014 to lead a task force on 21st century policing. The task force looks at police-community relations.
"The bonds between law enforcement and communities are frayed,” Ramsey said Wednesday night at the DNC. "But we can't play to America's worst fears. We need to champion our greatest hopes. Hillary will. She'll bring police and communities closer together. She'll support those who feel forgotten in challenged areas like the South Side of Chicago, Southeast D.C., and North Philadelphia. And she'll support dedicated police officers working to improve their communities.
"Important as ever, Hillary Clinton will build bridges between communities and police,” he said. "And ladies and gentleman, that's better than building walls."