Philly's former top cop: Clinton the 'strong steady leader' needed to address gun violence

Charles H. Ramsey, who retired from the Police Department in January, returned to speak up for Hillary Clinton.

Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey endorsed Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, saying he believes Clinton is the candidate most likely to push for an assault weapons ban and comprehensive background checks for would-be gun purchasers.

"Now more than ever, we need a strong steady leader to stop the bloodshed," said Ramsey, who retired from the Philadelphia Police Department in January. "A leader that will 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."

Ramsey's remarks came during a series of speeches that called for stronger gun control. Relatives of victims in the Orlando and Sandy Hook attacks spoke before him, and survivors of the Mother Emanuel Church shooting in Charleston, S.C. took the stage when he finished.

Ramsey, co-chair of President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, said that during his eight years leading the Philadelphia police force, eight officers were killed in the city.

Growing up in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, he added, he knew friends and a police officer who were killed just feet from his family's home.

"Gun violence isn't unique to Englewood," he said. "It continues to visit neighborhoods across the U.S."

His full-throated endorsement of Clinton stood in stark contrast to a statement made last week by Philadelphia's police union. Reacting to the news that relatives of victims of police shootings would speak on Clinton's behalf at the DNC, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 released a letter saying it was "insulted" by the exclusion of police widows.

"Mrs. Clinton you should be ashamed of yourself if that is possible," the letter said.

Ramsey, however, said Clinton "is the strong leader to protect our cops and communities from gun violence."

"She'll support those who feel forgotten in challenged areas like the South Side of Chicago, Southeast D.C, and North Philadelphia," he said. "And she'll support dedicated police officers working to improve their communities."

While the former commissioner did not name Republican nominee Donald Trump, he made it clear that he did not support the billionaire real estate developer and former reality TV star, who has proposed building a wall along the Mexican border.

"Important as ever, Hillary Clinton will build bridges between communities and cops," Ramsey said. "That's better than building walls."

cpalmer@phillynews.com

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