Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey still likes being in the middle of the action after all these years.
The city's top cop and his driver, Officer Christopher Frazier, were on their way back from a downtown meeting at about 1 p.m. Wednesday when they heard a call go out on police radio about a person trying to pass off a bad check at a Bank of America.
Car One arrived at the bank 16th Street and JFK Boulevard before any other law-enforcement teams. One of the suspects was inside the bank, trying to pass off the fraudulent check, while the second was working as the lookout outside.
"Next thing I know, the commissioner says, 'I got the one outside. You go after the other one,' " Frazier said. Ramsey, in full street cop mode, went straight for the suspect, who turned out to be a 20-something woman dressed in baggy clothing.
"I asked her if she had any weapons and patted the outside of her clothing. I heard a lot of, 'Yo, dawg, don't touch me,' " said Ramsey, who didn't bother mentioning to the young offender that he was the police commissioner.
Instead, Ramsey marched the suspect into the bank to join her cohort, another woman in her 20s who had tried to pass off the bad cashier's check for an estimated $4,900.
"She was trying to convince them that she worked construction and got four months' worth of pay for only working two months," Frazier said. "The bank had become aware that 10 cashier's checks had recently been stolen, and that was one of them."
Willieme Taylor, 22, was charged with theft and related crimes for trying to cash the check. It was not clear if the other woman would face any charges.
Ramsey seemed delighted as several cops teased him about the arrests at Thursday night's George Fencl Award ceremony in South Philadelphia. "We're always out there, responding to calls," he said. "That's the fun part of the job." *