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Chicago wooing Philadelphia's top cop

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is in discussions about becoming the new police chief in Chicago, where Ramsey worked on the police force for nearly 30 years, a spokesman for the Philadelphia mayor said on Thursday.

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who is to be sworn in as mayor of Chicago on May 15, is courting Ramsey to be Chicago's police superintendent, spokesman Mark McDonald said.

Ramsey is a native of Chicago, where he was on the police force for nearly 30 years before going to Washington, D.C., where he became police chief.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has had several conversations with Ramsey to persuade him to remain in Philadelphia, where he has served as commissioner since 2008, spokesman Mark McDonald said.

Ramsey, 60, is highly sought for managing to cut the crime rate despite a shrinking police force in a bad economy, McDonald said.

Asked about moving to Chicago in a local television interview, Ramsey said: "I like Philadelphia."

"This is a very, very good department," he said, later adding that a decision to move was "not easy."

Philadelphia's police force is comprised of 7,400 officers and civilian employees in a city of 1.5 million residents.

Chicago's force is nearly twice as big -- some 13,000 officers and civilians -- in a city of 2.8 million people.

According to city statistics, violent crime has dropped in Philadelphia by 14 percent during Ramsey's tenure, and the rate of homicide cases that are solved stands at 70 percent.

(Reporting by Dave Warner, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Bohan)