New commanding officer of PPD homicide unit focused on solving murders, supervision

As of March 28, there have been just over 100 homicides in Philadelphia.

Technically, that number is down from this time last year. But, following the disturbingly high trend the city has seen in recent years, the goal of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide Unit is to bring closure in as many of those cases as possible.

The new Commanding Officer of the unit talked about how they are solving cases.

15-year-old Devin Weedon is the latest child to become a victim of the senseless, surging gun violence in the city of Philadelphia. He was killed while simply walking to his high school on Tuesday morning.

Like every murder in the city, Weedon’s case file will carefully pass through Staff Inspector Ernest Ransom’s desk, he says. As of late January, he’s the commanding officer of the Homicide Unit—arguably one of the most challenging leadership roles for the department.


"It’s very disheartening, a child going to school should be able to get their education without the fear of being harmed," he says.

While Staff Inspector Ransom has 28 years with PPD, his path to homicide isn’t exactly traditional; he went from the 35th District, to East Detectives, Internal Affairs and most recently, Police Radio.

"It’s a big transition. Police radio is a different function naturally, but homicide, we’re looking at the worst of the worst cases. It’s important that I read every single job," he says.

Supervision and solving cases are among the goals of his new role. The unit’s clearance rate sits at 63 percent, year-to-date, and 2022 ended with a rate of 45 percent.

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"It’s hard to just keep up, that’s the reality of it," says Staff Inspector Ransom. "I’m a firm believer that the community knows what’s going on out there, they know who has the guns, they know who are committing the robberies, who are committing the carjackings, all we ask is that they give us this information so that we move forward in investigations."

As FOX 29 first reported last summer, the Homicide Unit has a team dedicated to cold cases. At times, they have to jump in with active cases.

Every Wednesday, Staff Inspector Ransom has police chaplains come meet with detectives.

"It is their life, we have a number of detectives that, for lack of better words, live here because they want to see these jobs through."

"I think it’s no secret that the homicide department has had its share of scandals in the past couple of years before your leadership, but how do you work on rebuilding that trust with the community?" FOX 29’s Kelly Rule asked.

"It starts with, as I said before, supervision to ensure our supervisors are doing the right thing at all times," says Staff Inspector Ransom.

Born and raised in North Philadelphia, at the end of the day, he can unfortunately relate to what so many families go through daily. He lost his brother in 2018 to a homicide.

His family did get closure, and he wants the same for every case.

"Try your best not to give up hope we are still actively looking at these cases," he says.


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Click here to find resources for victims of violence in Philadelphia.