For immediate release: Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Contact: Jolene Nieves Byzon, 215-300-1071
Philadelphia, PA – City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart released the following statement regarding the resignation of Police Commissioner Richard Ross, Jr. The statement is as follows:
“The reports regarding Richard Ross’s resignation from the Police Department paint a concerning picture of issues we know to be deeply engrained cultural problems in the City, and specifically within the Police Department. While there are many questions yet to be answered, the issues of sexual misconduct have been well known and reported on for years: a commander is still on the force despite a $1.25 million payout of taxpayer dollars in a case against him for sexual assault of a subordinate officer, and within the last year, a commander accused of sexual harassment by at least four female officers and a member of the public was promoted to oversee the Special Victims Unit.
Failures in reporting, investigating and administering discipline are why my office conducted an audit of the City’s sexual misconduct policies and procedures last year and made recommendations to the Kenney Administration for how to improve the process moving forward. If Mayor Kenney and his administration are serious about changing the culture, we need to deal with these specific cases, as well as look to citywide reforms on how sexual misconduct allegations are handled. One of the most important recommendations from my audit – full centralization of the reporting process – has not been implemented. A centralized process would mean that a single office, independent from all other departments, would be charged with accepting and documenting sexual misconduct allegations, investigating those allegations, compiling a report with a finding about the claim, and ensuring appropriate discipline was administered. This is still what the City needs to do to ensure that victims are heard, perpetrators are dealt with appropriately, and superiors take action to protect their subordinates and are held accountable when they don’t. My office will continue to push for these much needed reforms.”