Nutter Nuts About Philly Murder Rate

By Chris Freind

If the CEO of a Wall Street firm announced that revenues were up 22
percent, he would be lauded for his leadership and undoubtedly receive a
hefty raise.

By contrast, if it was revealed that the CEO was
playing games with the books and basing his figures not on a
year-to-date comparison from the prior year, but from four years ago, he
would probably be shown the door.

But that’s precisely the
situation with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, the
city’s highest-paid employee. The argument can be made that
Commissioner Ramsey is deliberately misleading the public on the city’s
murder rate.

A visit to the Philadelphia Police website Crime Stats page (
verifies what we already know: shootings, violence and murder are out
of control throughout the city. As of this writing, there have been 259
murders since January 1, as one can plainly see from the highlighted
2011 figure on the webpage. Beside that is a number with a down arrow.
Currently, it’s 18 percent, but last week it stood at 22. It purports
to represent the percentage that murders have decreased.

And therein lies the problem. A big one.

aren’t down 18 or 22 percent. As a matter of fact, they’re up.
Comparing year-to-date statistics, they’ve increased ten from last year,
a whopping 24 from 2009 (a ten percent jump), and eight from 2008.

Chief Ramsey has decided to hide these numbers and instead compare
today’s murder rate with that of 2007, the high-water mark for killings.
That’s like the Phillies claiming a playoff victory because they beat
the Cardinals half a decade ago.

It’s interesting to note that
Ramsey was hired at the end of 2007, which perhaps explains why he is
using that blood-soaked year as his benchmark— all the easier to pass
the buck and make himself look better.

Maybe the Chief, and Mayor
Nutter, who hired him and remains his boss, missed their callings. They
seem better suited for Wall Street firms that rely on misleading
investors (in this case, the citizens) for their own personal gain
(re-election, job security and bloated pensions).

So residents
get the screws two ways: they walk away with a false sense of security,
mistakenly believing that murders are down. And when they realize the
truth — that their leaders are deliberately misleading them — they
feel betrayed.

Unlike the Wall Street CEO, Nutter and Ramsey get
away scott-free. And like some robber baron execs, they each make a
pile of money, courtesy of a duped public, with little accountability
and oversight.

In fact, Chief Ramsey is rolling in it, to the tune of $255,000/year.

may recall that earlier this year, the Commissioner was actively
courted for the top police job in his hometown of Chicago. Despite
pleas that he stay, it was almost a done deal, but for one small
sticking point: his $400,000 per year total compensation asking price,
according to press reports. You know it’s greedy when even a liberal
Democrat like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel balks at such an obscene
amount, which, by the way, is the salary of the President of the United

Ramsey’s reason for ultimately staying in Philadelphia?
“…the support I got here at home from the business community — and the
media, even — and, of course, Mayor Nutter, made the difference.”

that, and the $60,000 pay raise he was promised from the Mayor as a
reward for not leaving the city, courtesy of the taxpayers. That
increase makes the Commissioner the highest — repeat, highest — paid
city employee. Even more than the Mayor himself.

Ramsey was
right about one thing. He did get quite a bit of support, from city
councilmen (“we won the big prize” by retaining Ramsey) to the gushing,
sycophant media. Notably, neither entity bothered asking the right
questions before, or after, the lavish pay hike was doled out to the

Questions such as:

1) How can the city afford to
shell out a $60,000/year salary increase to anyone when it can’t even
pay its current bills, has an insolvent pension, and continues to see
its tax base — what’s left of it — flee? In fact, it was just
reported that there is yet another tax revenue shortfall, adding to the
budget deficit. What a surprise.

And for the record, there are
plenty of qualified people who would have gladly accepted the
Commissioner’s previous salary of $195,000 had he chosen to leave.

When will Philadelphia realize that paying exorbitant salaries to
government officials is not just financially foolhardy, but doesn’t
guarantee results? Just look at Arlene Ackerman, the now former School
Superintendent who made $325,000/year (with incentives allowing for a
half-million dollar payday) to preside over an ever-worsening school
district. For the privilege of leaving her post, she banked $905,000,
all footed by the public.

And don’t forget scandal-plagued former
Housing Authority chief Carl Greene, who, with his bonus, was making
$350,000. In addition, residents are still paying sky-high legal bills
related to the mess he left behind.

3) Was any quantitative, or
better yet, common sense analysis done to see if Ramsey merited such a
large salary bump? Murders are increasing, out-of-control flash mobs
have led to curfews, police corruption is rampant, and there is growing
fear on the streets, leading many suburbanites to stay away.

to the Chief’s 2008 “Crime Fighting Strategy,” the big goal that year
was to “reduce homicides by twenty-five percent,” yet the Department was
way short, overseeing only a 15 percent drop from 2007 to 2008. And
what of the stated overall plan of reducing homicides by 30 to 50
percent, as outlined in a public letter from Ramsey to Nutter? Not even
in the ballpark. As noted above, homicides have been rising, not

While certainly not all these things can be attributable
to the Chief, the buck stops with him. He is responsible. Just like a
CEO often receives no bonus when numbers are down, the Chief of Police
should have pay raises tied to performance. But since the Mayor deals
in Other People’s Money, that isn’t the case.

Is the city is
safer? You can play with statistics to bolster any desired conclusion.
Yet ask those in Philadelphia whether they truly feel secure, and most
would simply laugh. And that’s the only statistic that matters.

the Chief doing a good job? In some respects, yes. But so stellar that
he commands a raise three times more than the city’s per capita income?
Not even close. The fact that the city can’t afford the money is just
salt in the wound.

OK, fine. Ramsey got his money. It is what it is, and he isn’t relinquishing it. But that bolsters the point all the more.

The leader of the Police Department should epitomize transparency and honesty.

in what can only be assumed to be a deliberate attempt to deceive
Philadelphians, games are being played with the city’s increasing murder
rate. And there is no excuse for that. None.

The culture of any
organization is established by the conduct of its top leaders. In the
Philadelphia Police Department’s case, its culture of honor, values and
integrity has taken a hit. And when the rank and file — the guys on
the street chasing down the murderers — see their top brass skirting
the truth for political gain, perhaps they too cut a corner where they
shouldn’t be. They take on the persona of their leadership.

time for the Mayor and Chief to do the right thing by telling the
truth, no matter how difficult that may be. Let’s see more honesty in
the most trusted institution in Philadelphia — its police department.

Only when the city’s leaders regain the trust of the people will Philadelphia begin its journey back to respectability.


Nutter Nuts About Philly Murder Rate

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