District Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey recently had a nightmare in which he was being chased down a street. But he was not fleeing an armed crook. He was running from an oozing, greasy, fat-laden Italian beef sandwich.
"Sausage and peppers were dripping off that bad boy," Ramsey told the force's daily newsletter, the Dispatch, which has been charting his quest to shed 57 pounds from his 247-pound frame.
Ramsey started a diet and exercise program in July after his physician recommended that he lose weight. The chief has long suffered from chronic migraine headaches and high blood pressure, and he is hoping that losing weight will help combat those conditions.
Through last week, Ramsey had lost 27 pounds. He said that the migraines have receded and that he is feeling more energetic since starting to trim down.
Ramsey decided to publicly chronicle his weight loss efforts in the department's newsletter to show officers that anyone can get fit, he said. The newsletter is tracking his progress in regular features that include commentary from the calorie-conscious chief.
"I'm a 54-year-old guy who is overweight and has high blood pressure, and I have too much stress in my life," Ramsey said in an interview last week.
"I'm not alone in that. I kind of figured this would be something that would give some people some incentive to take better care of themselves."
Kevin Palmer, a writer in the department's corporate communications office who has been chronicling the chief's diet in the newsletter, said many officers are closely following Ramsey's efforts.
"He actually wanted to be kind of a beacon of light for the rest of the department," Palmer said. "He felt that if he could do it, anyone can."
Ramsey and others on the force worry that the department has too many overweight officers, a problem recently highlighted by the City Paper.
Policing can be a physically demanding job, and officers are required to carry heavy equipment and run after suspects at a moment's notice. They are also forced to drive patrol cars all day and often gobble down fast food as they race from call to call.
Ramsey's dieting philosophy is relatively simple, he said: cutting back on fatty foods, carbohydrates and high-sugar treats.
"If I want a piece of bread, I'll have a piece of bread . . . I just don't eat the whole loaf!" the chief told the Dispatch.
He also increased his exercise regimen. Five days a week, he tries to walk an hour on a treadmill and do 500 sit-ups, he said.
In a department that regularly sets goals for crime reductions, Ramsey originally established an objective of reaching 200 pounds. But he amended that target recently. He now hopes to cut back to 190 pounds by Christmas.
In a tongue-in-cheek graphic meant to emulate the way the Dispatch charts crime statistics, the newsletter has been tracking Ramsey's weight change -- indicating his past weight, current weight, total weight loss and goal.
It also has tracked his waist size, noting that he has dropped two pants sizes since he started his program.
Arrows indicating decreases from a 42-inch waist to a 40-inch waist accompany the graphic. Ramsey wants to fit into size 38 pants.
But the diet might have a downside. The chief could soon find himself under investigation if he cannot resist temptation.
A co-worker "had a couple pieces of chocolate the other day, and I could have choked her," Ramsey told the newsletter -- supposedly with a grin.