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January 27, 2022

Temple taps former Philly police commissioner Charles Ramsey to audit campus safety services

A new app will give students at the North Philly campus a more direct link to campus police

As Philadelphia continues to reel from surging rates of violent crime, Temple University has sought the expertise of former police commissioner Charles Ramsey to evaluate and improve campus safety services.

Temple President Dr. James Wingard made a commitment in November to enhance the university's safety infrastructure as part of a wider anti-violence initiative aimed at reducing shootings in North Philadelphia, one of the neighborhoods hardest-hit by the city's rise in crime during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

That push included increasing Temple's campus safety force by 50% and partnering more closely with Philadelphia police to patrol nearby areas off-campus, in addition to adding more lighting, cameras, emergency phones and shuttle service.

Ramsey served as Philadelphia's police commissioner from 2008 to 2016, a period during which Philadelphia's homicide rate dropped by 37% and violent crime decreased by 31%. In the final year of Ramsey's tenure, there were 277 homicides in Philadelphia. That figure has increased every year since and ascended last year to 562 homicides, the highest number ever recorded in Philadelphia.

"Charles Ramsey is one of the most decorated police commissioners in recent history, and his track record speaks for itself," Wingard said Thursday. "His work in Philadelphia and with President Obama has been well-documented, but he also had great success leading police forces in both Chicago and Washington, D.C. We are committed to enhancing safety around campus and Commissioner Ramsey's expertise will be key to ensuring that we are on the right path."

Ramsey has been among the nation's most vocal proponents of community policing and evidence-based crime policy, advocating for stronger relationships between police and community members in order to better inform crimefighting strategies. He co-chaired former President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing and has been prominent on CNN as a commentator covering law enforcement issues.

To build community relationships in North Philadelphia, Wingard has formed a Task Force on Violence Reduction Strategies to engage key constituents including parents and residents in North Philadelphia.

"The answers to solving this crisis can be found only by harnessing the collective expertise of the entire Temple community," Wingard said. "This is all hands on deck and through the Task Force on Violence Reduction Strategies, we will bring together voices from across Temple and Philadelphia as we work together toward real, tangible solutions."

Temple's renewed commitment to campus safety comes after the deadly November shooting of 21-year-old Samuel Collington, a senior political science major who was targeted in a carjacking near campus. The announcement of Ramsey's participation in the university's efforts also follows this week's fatal shooting of 23-year-old Hyram Hill, the son of a Philadelphia police officer who appears to have been targeted in a robbery just south of Temple's medical campus. 

All members of the Temple community will have access next month to a new personal safety mobile app, RAVE Temple Guardian, that enables them to easily request escort services and report suspicious activity. The app will be available Feb. 14 at the App Store or Google Play.

"We believe that the RAVE technology has the potential to be a game-changer for the Temple community," said Charlie Leone, Temple's executive director of public safety. "No one should ever have to feel unsafe while on campus and this ensures that wherever our students go, they can be reassured that help is just a click away."

Temple did not provide additional details about what Ramsey's role with the university will entail, but said regular campus safety updates will be provided as new measures are adopted and changes are implemented.