APPARENTLY, Michael Nutter's choice for top cop did not get the memo.

Somebody should have told Charles H. Ramsey that folks in Philadelphia are looking to hear some tough talk from their new crime-fighter.

He didn't have to show up with belts of bullets criss-crossing his chest or a pearl-handled Glock on each hip. But it may have helped to work phrases like "make my day, punk" into his speech.

Nutter provided the perfect setup for Ramsey yesterday at a press conference at the West Branch YMCA at 52nd and Chestnut streets.

To the right of the podium was a giant blowup of a Daily News front page to remind the audience that they were seated in what we recently dubbed "the most violent" neighborhood in town.

Nutter positioned himself and Ramsey between two signs that carried the new adminsitration's theme: "A New Day, A New Way"

Instead, Ramsey sounded themes that were surprisingly similar to what we have been hearng from soon-to-be-retired Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, a man Ramsey said he has "a great deal of respect for."

Ramsey said his three-pronged approach includes "focused law enforcement" and neighborhood partnerships to gain an understanding "of what their priorities are."

His third prong is one we hear from Johnson every time someone puts a microphone in front of him.

"Systemic prevention," Ramsey said. "Crime is a social problem. It's not just a police problem."

It wasn't all back to the future, though. If Ramsey was short on swagger, he was long on confidence.

"These are all fixable problems," he said at one point. "I haven't seen anything new here."

He's right. Philadelphia's "crime crisis" as it was billed yesterday is nothing he hasn't seen in a 40-year career as a cop. Starting with his appointment as an 18-year-old cadet with the Chicago Police Department and culminating with his nine-year stint as chief of police in Washington, D.C., he's seen it all.

He's seen enough to know that tough talk may be a soothing salve. But it won't make the streets safer.

What may, Ramsey said, is strategic deployments based on the best use of available technologies and the intelligence gained from his neighborhood partnerships. He says it won't require any massive shakeups of what he calls "a very good Police Department."

He endorsed Nutter's call for a city charter change that would permit him to hand-pick his cadre instead of having to rely mainly on retreads. But even without that, he said, "Some good things are going to happen."

Ramsey said he took the job in part because Nutter, "has a very clear vision for the city . . . I agree with that vision."

But he was subdued in his support for Nutter's signature police iniative, "stop and frisk."

He called stop and frisk "a valuable tactic as long as you have reasonable suspicion.

"What you don't want to do is alienate our citizens."

It was a recurrent theme.

"One thing we will not do," he said early in his remarks "is abuse the rights of citizens."

If his rhetoric sounds a little touchy-feely to you, his results offer some reassurance.

The Web site of Washington's Metropolitan Police Department credits the department with a 40 percent reduction in crime during Ramsey's tenure. The body count was reduced from more than 300 when Ramsey was appointed chief to 169 homicides last year.

It's a remarkable accomplishment, especially given that they managed to get those results without running roughshod over citizens' rights.

Still, 169 homicides so far in a city less than half the size of Philadelphia is a homicide rate that's no better than ours. And Washington has the most-restrictive gun laws of any big city in America.

But Ramsey looks like the real thing.

In 40 years of crime-fighting, he has, as Nutter put it yesterday, "mastered every aspect of police work."

Every aspect, that is, except tough talk. *

Send e-mail to smithel@phillynews.com or call 215-854-2512. For recent columns: http://go.philly.com/smith