July 10, 2016
Issues of race and policing were the hot topics on the Sunday morning political talk show circuit, and former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey discussed the situation and said, "We are sitting on a powder keg."
Ramsey was a guest on NBC's "Meet the Press" after a week that began with the killing of two black men by police officers and ended with the ambush in Dallas that killed five police officers and injured seven more.
In 2014, President Barack Obama selected Ramsey to help examine the relationship between police and the community on the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which disclosed its findings in March 2015.
"It just seems like sometimes it is two steps forward and one back, but we have to continue to move forward." Ramsey began to explain to host Chuck Todd, "Has there been progress? Yeah, absolutely. I think the report is a good road map for the future."
However, Ramsey acknowledged the difficulties enacting the changes that are needed, "You can call it a powder keg, you could say that we're handling nitroglycerin. But obviously, when you just look at what's going on, we're in a very, very critical point in the history of this country."
The polarizing 2016 Election isn't helping matters either. Ramsey warned that incidents could occur at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
"I think you've got two conventions coming up that are going to be very, very challenging to handle. And I don't think they are going to go without some incident taking place," Ramsey said. "It's unfortunate, but that's what I personally think. I hope that's not the case. But you've got too many people that are now with this extreme rhetoric and that is just not good for anybody."
Despite the increased attention on the deaths of people shot by police and the deaths of officers in the line of duty, Ramsey stressed gun violence is not a new problem.
"We do have some rising crime rates. And let's face it, we have on average about 13,000 murders in the United States every year. These are not shootings by police; these are people killing people," Ramsey said. "There's a disproportionate amount of it going on in many of our more challenged communities."
Ramsey highlighted the differences among the 18,000 police departments nationwide, calling for the consolidation of departments to better train officers and enforce laws more consistency.
"In your larger cities, where you have a lot of diversity, obviously you have officers that are very accustomed to dealing with a variety of people. We still have parts in our country where that's not the case," Ramsey said. "We need to bring people together, but we need more consistency in terms of the training that's provided, the selection and hiring of individuals."
Ramsey stepped down as Philly's top cop in January after serving nearly eight years under Mayor Michael Nutter.
To read the full transcript, click here.