U.S. NEWS

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Resigns Over Handling Of Harassment Allegations

Mayor Jim Kenney said that Richard Ross' resignation is due to allegations within the department that the mayor felt were not properly dealt with.

The Philadelphia police commissioner has abruptly resigned, city officials announced.

Mayor Jim Kenney said in a press release Tuesday that Richard Ross resigned due to allegations of sexual harassment and gender and racial discrimination within the police department that the mayor felt were not properly dealt with.

Kenney stressed that Ross was not accused of harassment, but that “his resignation is in the best interest of the Department.”

“Last summer, the City implemented a new sexual harassment prevention policy and a series of internal reforms designed to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment throughout the government,” Kenney said in his statement. “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 resignation was related to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints filed earlier this year by two female officers, who later alleged in a lawsuit that they were subjected to “continuous and ongoing” sexual harassment and discrimination from colleagues and supervisors, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The women — one of whom is Black and the other Black and Hispanic — reportedly filed an amended complaint on Monday.

Mayor’s spokesperson Deana Gamble told the Inquirer that Ross knew of the allegations but “failed to act adequately.”

Ross had been with the department since 1989 and was appointed commissioner in 2016. Kenney had often praised Ross for his dedication and said in his statement that he’s grateful for “the many reforms he brought to the Department.” 

“However, I believe new leadership will help us continue to reform the Department and show that racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination simply will not be tolerated.”

Kenney said he’s named Deputy Commissioner Christine Coulter as acting commissioner until Ross is replaced, and plans to hire an independent firm to investigate the allegations and recommend solutions to the department.

The Philadelphia Police Department did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. 

The department, the fourth-largest in the U.S., has faced a tumultuous summer, recently dealing with an hourslong shootout that wounded at least six officers in the city’s Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood. Ross personally negotiated with the accused gunman to surrender last week. 

Ross also oversaw the department during a scandal in which dozens of Philadelphia officers were accused of posting racist and violent posts on Facebook. Ross suspended 13 officers with an intent to fire them and put 72 officers on desk duty in June after the Plain View Project presented screengrabs of thousands of public posts appearing to belong to current and former officers from eight U.S. jurisdictions ― including Philadelphia ― over a span of two years.

CONVERSATIONS