Philadelphia, PA – The mayor made the shocking announcement on Tuesday that Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross had submitted his resignation.
While he did not offer any specifics, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement that the commissioner’s resignation had to do with recent allegations of sexual harassment, racism, and gender discrimination, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“New allegations of sexual harassment as well as gender and racial discrimination among the rank and file have recently been brought to my attention,” the mayor said.
“While those allegations do not accuse Commissioner Ross of harassment, I do ultimately believe his resignation is in the best interest of the Department,” the mayor concluded.
Kenney said that city had implemented a new sexual harassment prevention policy and internal reforms a year ago that were designed to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment.
He said in his statement that Commissioner Ross had failed to do his best with implementing the new policy.
“While rolling out a new policy understandably takes time, I do not believe the Police Department has taken the necessary actions to address the underlying cultural issues that too often negatively impact women-especially women of color,” the mayor said in the statement. “I will be enlisting the help of an independent firm to investigate the recent allegations and to make recommendations to overcome some of the discrimination and harassment within the Department.”
KYW tweeted that sources in Kenney’s office said that a corporal and a patrol officer had recently claimed they were discriminated against based on race and gender.
Although Commissioner Ross was not the person who discriminated against them, sources in the mayor’s office told KYW that the police commissioner didn’t handle the complaints the way that Kenney thought they should have been handled.
Despite that recent victory, the Philadelphia Police Department has been under a microscope and endured harsh criticism for months after an online database of police officers’ social media posts revealed that 328 officers and officials had posted content that some considered racist or otherwise offensive.
In June, Commissioner Ross placed 72 officers and officials on administrative leave while the department hired an outside law firm to review the social media posts identified as problematic by the department.
The commissioner fired 13 officers in July and announced that another 56 of the 72 who were investigated would face discipline ranging from a reprimand to a 30-day unpaid suspension.
The mayor thanked Commissioner Ross but said in his statement that he thought new leadership would “help us continue to reform the Department and show that racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination simply will not be tolerated.”
The commissioner joined the Philadelphia police in 1989, and worked in Patrol, Special Operations, the Detective Bureau, Homicide, and Internal Affairs before he became top cop in 2016, Kenney’s statement said.
He also served as former-Commissioner Charles Ramsey’s first deputy for eight years, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The mayor announced that he had appointed Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Christine Coulter as acting commissioner, effective immediately, while a search is launched for a replacement for Commissioner Ross.