From rapper to captain: A Bronx NYPD officer’s journey

DI Ramsey
Commanding Officer: Deputy Inspector Keiyon S. Ramsey
Courtesy of NYPD

As a teen Keiyon Ramsey was a rapper and was friends with the late Big L. In fact, he even once saw Biggie Smalls at Rucker Park.

Did Ramsey become a musician? No. Today he is the Commanding Officer at the 43rd Precinct.

Ramsey, 44, was born and raised in Castle Hill and now has the privilege to give back to the place that he once called home.

“I’m living my dream being able to work in the community,” he told the Bronx Times.

While his mom is a retired teacher and in his life, it was his grandparents, Mildred and Arthur Ramsey who primarily raised him. Ramsey was close with Mildred and credits her for keeping him and his siblings Cameron and Shakira out of trouble.

“She ran a strict household,” he recalled. “She always made me feel like I was smart. She would always tell me I’m going to be a lawyer.”

According to Ramsey, his dream was to always be a rapper. He would write lyrics, freestyle and even recorded a couple albums.

Ramsey never met his dad and as he got older realized how that impacted him.

“I would make things up in my head why it was good to not have a father,” he recalled. “It affected me greatly not having a father.”

Ramsey’s path to joining law enforcement was not the typical one. He grew up around a lot of violence.

At 10-years-old he saw a friend kill another friend over a Nintendo, at 12 saw another dead body and a girl in the neighborhood was molested and thrown down a trash compactor. He even had friends give him guns to hold from time to time.

“I’ve been around a lot of death in the community,” he said. “It was just a part of life.”

According to the captain, he was raised not to call the cops.

During his time as a musician he was caught spray painting his logo near the 45th Precinct. That changed him and set him on the right path.

“Not everyone who gets arrested is the worst person in the world,” he explained.

Around 22 he began studying at Lehman College at night and was driving the Access a Ride during the day. One day he came out and saw he got a ticket and instead of getting angry, asked the traffic agent about how he could get a job.

That set the wheels in motion for his future as a cop. He was giving a car a ticket when a cop passed by and he waived to the police officer.

Instead of returning the polite gesture, the cop gave him the middle finger. This infuriated Ramsey, but also made him want to join law enforcement.

So, he enrolled in the police academy at 27, which was much older than the typical recruit. But his age did not bother him.

“I feel like I had a whole life before I came on this job,” he stated.

He was assigned to the 40th Precinct in the south Bronx, then went to the 42nd, where he made sergeant, then to housing and then gang sergeant for all of school safety for the city.

While he has only been at the 43rd for five months, he is on cloud nine. Both of Ramsey’s grandparents passed away before he became a cop, but he knows they would be proud.

Ramsey noted that some friends had no idea he was a police officer.

“I’m playing with house money now,” he remarked. “My mom is through the roof about it.”

The commander explained to the Bronx Times that being a police officer is not easy. Every day is a challenge and the goal is to keep the community safe and come home to his family.

He feels seeing the violence as a youth helped prepare him for being in law enforcement.

“It’s who I am. I wouldn’t change anything in my life,” he said.

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