By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As those six former police officers face corruption charges, Commissioner Charles Ramsey has, for the first time, broader powers to run the massive police department, including the right to promote some top commanders based on merit.
The new FOP contract award gives Commissioner Ramsey what he and past Commissioners had long sought: the right to promote some of his commanders based solely on merit, regardless of how they score on exams.
“There are many people who are very qualified, good leaders, but they do not test very well. So from the rank of captain and above, of the promotions that are made, 20-percent can be made on merit,” said Ramsey.
The contract also gives Ramsey, for the first time, the right to conduct mandatory drug testing in three units : narcotics, forensics and evidence. This is in addition to random drug tests now conducted departmentwide.
“That is not meant to suggest that we have an issue there in terms of officers using illegal drugs,” Ramsey said. “But obviously we need to make sure that we don’t have any issues in that very sensitive area. So in addition to the random drug testing, at least two times a year we can have people go down and submit to a mandatory drug test.”
As previously reported, the contract gives Ramsey the right to rotate officers in and out of both Narcotics and Internal Affairs. Another managerial prerogative under the award: the commissioner can adjust schedules on short notice.
“Three times a year now, for up to four hours with 24 hour notice, we could change the schedule of an officer for up to two weeks,” he said. “And we can do it by district.”
Ramsey is pleased with the new powers, saying they allow him greater flexibility to fight crime. Mayor Nutter is also pleased, particularly with the first-ever use of merit-based promotion.
“When you function in a command-and-control environment, a paramilitary organization like the Philadelphia police department, the leader has to have a certain amount of flexibility and managerial authority to put the best men and women by function, by background, by training, in the right place at the right time,” he said.
The FOP chief, John McNesby, isn’t exactly jumping for joy about the changes, but he vows to work with Ramsey on how best they can be implemented.
“I don’t think that there’s anything out there in those managerial prerogatives that we can’t work through,” he said. “They’re not excessive. I think they’re fair.”