Richard Ross Jr., the Philadelphia police commissioner, abruptly resigned on Tuesday after what the city’s mayor described as a failure to stop harassment and discrimination in the department.
“New allegations of sexual harassment as well as gender and racial discrimination among the rank and file have recently been brought to my attention,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “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 did not describe the new allegations, but according to a spokeswoman two members of the department said Commissioner Ross had known of harassment by other members of the department.
“A corporal and patrol officer made allegations against several members of the department that they were sexually harassed and discriminated upon based on the gender and race,” said the spokeswoman, Deana Gamble. “According to the claims, Commissioner Ross was aware of the alleged harassment.”
Mr. Kenney indicated that the department had not acted quickly enough after the city implemented sexual harassment reforms last summer.
“While rolling out a new policy understandably takes time,” Mr. Kenney said, “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.”
Commissioner Ross could not immediately be reached for comment. He was appointed to the city’s highest law enforcement post in January 2016 after serving with the department since 1989, Mr. Kenney said.
Mr. Kenney said an independent firm would investigate the recent claims and recommend changes within the police department.
The resignation comes less than a week after Commissioner Ross personally negotiated with a man who shot six officers from a Philadelphia rowhouse.
Mr. Kenney said that he was grateful for Commissioner Ross’s service, but that he believed new leadership would “show that racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination simply will not be tolerated.”
Christine M. Coulter, a deputy commissioner, will serve as acting commissioner as the city searches for a long-term replacement. The Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.