In 2010, Philadelphia police officers made some spectacularly bad headlines for acts of corruption, prompting Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey to warn that "it could get worse before it gets better."

That trend will continue into the new year, with several more corruption cases "coming to a head in 2011," Ramsey said in an interview this week.

"Irrespective of the embarrassment it may cause, it's worth it if we can get rid of people," he said. "In the long term, we'll be a much better, much stronger department."

Ramsey did not elaborate on the ongoing investigations, but at least two officers in the 25th District are suspected of working with drug dealers and robbing the dealers' rivals.

Those officers were the targets of an October sting operation that eventually netted two other 25th District officers, Sean Alivera and Christopher Luciano, now accused of helping to rob a drug dealer of marijuana and cash.

Three other officers - two from the 39th District and one from the 25th District - were nabbed in a separate federal investigation in July for allegedly planning the theft and resale of 300 grams of heroin from an alleged drug supplier.

Two other officers were charged in 2010 with murder after off-duty shootings, and others faced charges for thefts and assaults.

The year was capped by the federal extortion indictment of Inspector Daniel Castro, one of the department's rising stars, who was once considered a future candidate for commissioner.

Castro, a 25-year veteran who was head of the Traffic Division, was accused of seeking to hire an enforcer to recoup money he had lost in a real estate investment.

"For every person who commits a corrupt act, it overshadows literally hundreds of cases where police officers did the job appropriately," Ramsey said this week. "It's just a shame."

As the year of bad news unfolded, Ramsey focused more and more on corruption and talked of making the department a more professional organization.

He sent several messages through the ranks and, in August, produced an eight-page report on preventing corruption.

This month, Ramsey achieved one of the signature elements of that report when the Civil Service Commission approved changes he had sought in hiring standards.

Previously, academy recruits needed to be 19 and have a high school diploma or GED. Under the new standards, a recruit must be 21 and have 60 semester hours of college credit or two years of military service.

Recruits also must have three years of driving experience.

Ramsey also has beefed up Internal Affairs and assigned a team to work with the FBI to investigate corruption.

The department launched a hotline and e-mail address to log public complaints, and officers are receiving more ethics training more often.

"We're putting the resources in," he said earlier this year. "We're going to fix this problem."

Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 215-854-2730 or tgraham@phillynews.com.