The Anti-Defamation League’s National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. honored May 16-17 former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey for his approach to anti-discrimination training in law enforcement. (Courtesy Photo)

Hundreds of leaders and activists gathered May 16-17 for the Anti-Defamation League’s National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. Charged with discussing and developing strategic methods of countering racial, gender, and religious intolerance, the league also used the event to honor former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey for his innovative approach to anti-discrimination training in law enforcement.

Many of the issues covered in this year’s summit included the use of technology in fostering discrimination, such as cyberhate, and anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism, and religious intolerance using the social media, chat rooms, and texts. It was Ramsey’s efforts to reconnect law enforcement agents to people of color and diverse communities that proved the highlight of the annual event.

“A law enforcement leader must also be an educator and a mentor and a role model. Former Commissioner Ramsey used the history of the Holocaust as a springboard to increase law enforcement’s understanding of its relationship to the people that it served, its role as a protector of the Constitution, and a guardian of our individual rights,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, League CEO. “At a time when our political season is charged with so much rhetoric that pushes people apart, it is an honor to celebrate someone who helps pull people together,” he said.

Ramsey received the William and Naomi Gorowitz Institute Service Award for developing an officer training program that connected the oath officers took to protect and serve to the their daily duties to preserve the dignity and rights of all citizens. Ramsey said that a tour of the Holocaust Memorial Museum forced him to examine the critical role police officers played in racism and anti-Semitism.

“When I left the museum I couldn’t get the images out of my mind and I was troubled. One of the first photos you see in the exhibition of Holocaust is a police officer with the German shepherd and it made me stop and think about the role of police in a democratic society and how these men who had taken an oath similar to mine, participated in this,” Ramsey told the crowd gathered at the Mayflower Hotel, located at 1127 Connecticut Ave NW. “When officers lose sight of their primary responsibility of protecting the rights of all people, those are the types of abuses that occur.”

Ramsey, a Chicago native, ended his tenure as the District’s police chief in 2008 when he accepted the position of Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department. During Ramsey’s eight-year stint as Chief of Police in D.C., crime rates declined by 40 percent and community policing was expanded to improve the overall quality of recruits, hiring standards, training, equipment, and facilities.

“We have not always stood on the right side of justice in this country as officers and have not always lived up to the oath of office we have taken, but we are continuing to evolve,” Ramsey said. “The issue is the role of police whose obligation it is to protect all of its citizens and not allow any group to be singled out for different treatment.