By Kenneth Lipp
The Wall Street Journal published a report yesterday on a wide discrepancy between FBI data on police-involved killings in cities throughout the United States and the statistics recorded by those local departments. According to the report, dozens of killings by officers are missing from the records kept by major cities’ departments, including Washington, DC. According to the Journal, “police in Washington, D.C., didn’t report to the FBI details about any homicides for an entire decade beginning with 1998” – beginning with the hiring and continuing throughout the term of current Philly Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey’s tenure as Chief of the District of Columbia’s police.
Current Chief Cathy Lanier said she did not know why her department stopped reporting numbers to the FBI in 1998 – as the WSJ article notes, the year the Washington Post reported that the DC police had among the country’s highest officer-involved killing rates. The Journal reports:
When [Lanier] took over in 2007, she said, reporting the statistics “was a nightmare and a very tedious process.”
Washington DC police resumed reporting numbers to the FBI in 2009, the year after Lanier became Chief, and she referred questions about the decade lapse to Commissioner Ramsey, who declined to comment.
Yesterday the Declaration reported that public interest legal organization the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCFJ) had called on President Obama to rescind his appointment of the Commissioner to a new task force on community policing. The PCFJ objected citing Ramsey’s record in DC.
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It seems to me that this should be cause for disqualification of Commissioner Ramsey—certainly if he is appointed, that task force will lose (almost) all credibility. Given the recent U.N. statements, we must do better if we are to retain any shred of our former international respect.
[…] to Commissioner Ramsey for an explanation for the suspension of reporting. Ramsey declined to comment. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has denounced Ramsey’s appointment to co-chair […]