Ramsey: L.E. Agencies Need to Adapt in 2013

Charles Ramsey says the law enforcement community will have to get used to the new normal.

The last time such a commission was formed was back in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson created the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.

Mass Shootings

Mass-causality shootings dominated the headlines in 2012.

A former nursing student allegedly gunned down seven people at Oikos University in Oakland, Calif. on April 2; a gunman entered a theater in Aurora, Colo. on July 20 and opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others; a white supremacist allegedly killed six people inside a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. on Aug. 5.

The unthinkable happened on Dec. 14 when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and killed 26 people including 20 small children.

These are just some of the tragedies officers were called to in 2012, and Ramsey said that in the coming year, a lot of focus will be put on training.

"I think we really started (looking at it) after Columbine and there were a lot of lessons learned," he said. "You can't just wait around for the SWAT team. You have to be trained and prepared to go in."

He stressed that departments have to make sure that every officer who leaves the academy has undergone active-shooter training.

"We have to be vigilant, we have to be prepared," he said. "It's going to be that beat cop who is responding, not the specialized unit."

Following the Newtown tragedy, many organizations -- and the President himself -- have called for renewed discussions on gun control.

Ramsey was among the law enforcement officials who attended a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex on Dec. 20 to discuss gun laws.

"I think gun laws are something police leaders as well as politicians need to be able to look at," he said. "It's time to have a responsible conversation about them. We have to look at this realistically and figure out if the laws on the books are adequate and if not, what can be done."

While preliminary data shows that firearms-related fatalities of law enforcement officers declined by 32 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year, there were still several high-profile incidents in which officers were ambushed.

Ramsey urged officers to always be prepared for the worst.

"It stands to reason you'll see an increase in use of guns against police because you are seeing an increase in gun violence overall," he said.

He also spoke of the importance of bullet proof vests and the need for agencies to require officers to wear them.

"Believe it or not, we still have some agencies that don't have mandatory policies for ballistic vests and you have some officers and union officials that argue against it," he said.

Going forward into 2013, Ramsey said that officers need to keep in mind that their main job is to serve the public, and not to lose sight of that.

"I think that the biggest message we need to convey to rank and file officers is that this is a very challenging time, but the one thing that hasn't changed is that this is a service profession," he said. "Most of the people we deal with are not criminals and we have to be ready and able to help them."

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