Philadelphia police commissioner abruptly resigns


(Reuters) – Philadelphia’s police commissioner resigned on Tuesday over what the city mayor said was his department’s failure to address accusations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination in the ranks.

Commissioner Richard Ross, who joined the Philadelphia police force in 1989, tendered his resignation after serving for two years in the department’s top job, Mayor Jim Kenney said in a written statement.

Last summer Philadelphia handed down new sexual harassment rules and implemented a series of internal reforms throughout the city government aimed at preventing workplace discrimination and harassment.

In July, two female members of the Philadelphia Police Department sued the city, alleging they had been groped and verbally harassed by male colleagues on the force and that supervisors, including Ross, failed to respond adequately.

Ross was not personally accused of any wrongdoing.

“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,” Kenney said.

Ross did not issue a separate statement.

The mayor said a deputy commissioner, Christine Coulter, had been named to serve in the top job on an interim basis during a search for a permanent replacement.

“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,” Kenney said.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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