(CBS) — Former Chicago Police Department Deputy Superintendent Charles Ramsey will be returning to the department to serve as a senior advisor, the city announced on Sunday morning.

Ramsey served as deputy superintendent from 1994-98, leaving to serve as police commissioner the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. In 2007, he left D.C. to become the police commissioner of Philadelphia and retired from the position earlier this month.

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The city says Ramsey will work with the department to evaluate policies on training, and internal management and accountability systems, interactions with the mentally ill and more.

The Chicago Police Department is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division in wake of the release of dashcam video showing a Chicago Police officer shoot and kill teenager Laquan McDonald. The city said Ramsey led the two departments through similar investigations.

When Ramsey retired as Philadelphia police commissioner last year, one newspaper called him “the most popular public official in town,” but it was his work with the Justice Department on police reform there and D.C. that made him attractive to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“He’s familiar with that work, and so he brings a unique perspective in helping us make the necessary reforms and changes,” the mayor said Sunday.

Ramsey said the department must rebuild public trust “one contact at a time.”

“We’ve got to really get down to basics again in terms of really establishing relationships in neighborhoods across the city, but in particular, our more challenged neighborhoods,” he said. “I had a similar experience in both Washington and Philadelphia with the Justice Department. In my opinion, they were good experiences, because the department emerged much stronger afterwards.”

He noted, when he served as police chief in D.C., he asked the Justice Department to come in and look at that department. He credited the Justice Department with helping turn that police force around, and two years ago he called on the feds again in Philly.

“We had a spike in officer-involved shootings,” he said.

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Ramsey also led a commission on 21st Century policing for President Barack Obama, but veteran civil rights attorney Flint Taylor said he fears Ramsey just is too close to Chicago Police.

“To bring someone back who spent 30 years in this department, while this culture was percolating and building, I think is not something that will give us a lot of confidence,” Taylor said.

Emanuel and Ramsey said the true test for Chicago police is rebuilding community trust.

“It happens through action, not through words, and it takes time. This isn’t going to turn around on a dime,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey is confident the job will get done. He’ll work with the mayor’s hand-picked panel that is tasked with developing comprehensive reforms for the department.

Ramsey is a Chicago native and started his career with the Chicago Police Department as a cadet in 1968.

“Commissioner Ramsey’s return to the Chicago Police Department is an opportunity to build on the important work we are undertaking to restore trust between the Department and Chicago’s residents,” said Acting Chicago Police Superintendent John Escalante. “I look forward to relying on his counsel and leadership.”

Escalante is serving as interim superintendent after Garry McCarthy was fired last year.

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Ramsey was bypassed for superintendent in 1998, when Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Terry Hillard as the city’s top cop. Emanuel also approached Ramsey for the superintendent’s post in 2011 before Emanuel hired McCarthy instead.