Search panelist Ramsey neutral on life-saving police reform

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Techtown CEO Chris Ramsey and staffer Gwyneth Wilson greet parents at the end of a computer summer camp at the nonprofit group's classrooms in downtown Chattanooga. Mr. Ramsey is advising Mayor Andy Berke on selecting a police chief. (Photo David Tulis)

Techtown CEO Chris Ramsey and staffer Gwyneth Wilson greet parents at the end of a computer summer camp at the nonprofit group’s classrooms downtown. Mr. Ramsey is on a committee of five advising Mayor Andy Berke on selecting a police chief. (Photo David Tulis)

With the application window closed now, 49 people have applied for police chief of Chattanooga, and the mayor’s office has engaged the help of five volunteers to sort through the applications and propose to him three.

Group member Chris Ramsey said he is giving no interviews regarding his work for Mayor Andy Berke. The committee will act and speak as a whole, he said; its work is not complete and he had no statement.

By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 92.7 FM

In a conversation Friday, I said that since would let no word flow from his lips to the press, maybe he would let a flow of words go the other way — from me to him. I wished to follow up a letter I’d written him about police reform.

Mr. Ramsey said his own views are not going to come into play and that he is going to do what is expected of him. But he appeared to give courteous ear at an encounter at Techtown, where is is CEO. I was there to pick up a son who’s been that week in a summer computer camp.

Mr. Ramsey said that it is incumbent upon him to look through the candidates and find someone who’s concerned about police force quality and will be a good chief.

I said the promise of police reform is unveiled in a report by Chuck Wexler at Police Executive Research Forum that proposes four areas of reform and policing. These are the use of time, space, cover and de-escalation to reduce human bloodshed and violence. ‡ Police slay nearly 1,000 people a year; as of July 1 they have slain 601 men and women in the United States.

Which candidate will stand apart?

I pressed on. It is his duty to find a prospect who is at least aware of these reform concepts. These kinds of humane ideas that respect human life have been thrust upon police culture for the past two years and they are no loner on the fringe.

A candidate who is not aware of these changes, nor for the crying need for the end of the police status quo in every city in the United States, is not a suitable candidate to serve Mayor Berke, I declared.

Reform ideas that would save American lives operate on the principle of grace and patient conversation and save officers from “the necessity” to immediately kill citizens who are not compliant or who appear to be dangerous in some way. Policing, I said, should hold the the value of every life made in God’s image. The current practice of state violence is the statutorily permitted, extra-judicial summary execution of a person who has done nothing to deserve capital punishment.

Mr. Ramsay, true to his initial neutral statement about his unpaid office, said his job is to offer the mayor the best of the best three candidates for chief.

Reform is essential to save American lives, I went on, seeing my moment of chat almost spent. Reform in Chattanooga is essential to save lives of people of his own race. Mr. Ramsey said he understood what I was saying.

‡ Chuck Wexler, Guiding Principles on Use of Force, Police Executive Research Forum, March 2016. This PDF is a well-illustrated and highly readable 136-page book.

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