Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney today accepted the resignation of Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross amid allegations of sexual misconduct within the department.
“Today, Commissioner Ross tendered his resignation,” Kenney said in a statement. “I am disappointed, because he’s been a terrific asset to the Police Department and the city as a whole.
“New allegations of sexual harassment as well as gender and racial discrimination among the rank and file have recently been brought to my attention. While those allegations do not accuse Commissioner Ross of harassment, I do ultimately believe his resignation is in the best interest of the Department.”
Ross’ resignation is effective Tuesday.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 President John McNesby said in a statement that the police union was saddened to learn about Ross’ resignation.
“Commissioner Ross has served the rank and file officers and the residents of this city with honor and respect over his three decades tenure,” McNesby said.
The specific nature of the sexual harassment and racial discrimination allegations are unknown at this time. 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 city government.
“While rolling out a new policy 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,” Kenney said.
Kenney said he will “enlist 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.”
“I am grateful for Commissioner Ross’ many years of dedicated service to our city, and the many reforms he brought to the Department,” Kenney continued. “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.”
Ross has served as commissioner since Jan. 5, 2016. He has served as a member of the Philadelphia Police Department since 1989.
Kenney has named Christine M. Coulter, Deputy Commissioner for the Philadelphia Police Department, as Acting Commissioner while the city begins a search for Ross’ replacement.
“Deputy Coulter is an experienced police commander with nearly 30 years of law enforcement service,” Kenney said. “She has a diverse experience in patrol operations, narcotics intelligence, and investigations I have full faith in her ability to lead the Department during this time of transition.”
Coulter is a three-star deputy in the Philadelphia Police Department. She has an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Community College of Philadelphia, a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Eastern University, and a master’s degree in public safety management from St. Joseph’s University. She is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. She is also a faculty member in the graduate program of public safety at St. Joseph University’s Institute of Criminal Justice and Public Safety Administration, where she teaches courses in risk assessment, disaster planning and the sociology of disaster.