8.21.19: Philadelphia – (Politics): For seventeen years, the Philadelphia Police Department has been led by an African-American man.
That nearly two decade long streak ended yesterday with the abrupt resignation of Mr. Richard Ross, who late last week was celebrated for his role in bringing about a peaceful resolution to an active shooter incident in North Philadelphia.
Temporarily replacing Mr. Ross – who has been named in a federal lawsuit that alleges he ignored harassment claims made by a Corporal with whom he was intimate as retribution for a dissolved love affair – is former deputy commissioner Ms. Christine Coulter, who’s also a defendant in the lawsuit, which was filed in late July. The plaintiffs, Corporal Audra McCowan, and Officer Jennifer Allen, stated the-then deputy commissioner knew of the complaints but remained indifferent.
Interim-commissioner Coulter is a white woman, and the first non-male of any color to occupy the position of Philadelphia’s top cop. As of this moment, the mayor, the managing director, the District Attorney and the police commissioner are all White.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney at a press conference today said he’s concerned about the optics and thinks the diversity at PPD should be maintained.
Mr. Brian Abernathy, the city’s managing director, also spoke to the importance of a non- homogeneous administration. But he also said that diversity won’t be a litmus test.
“We want to make sure we have the best commissioner,” Mr. Abernathy told me.
A regional and national search for a new police commissioner will soon commence. But Mr. Abernathy also noted that there are candidates within the department who are strong competitors for the job.
No timeline was given for when the public can expect an announcement of a new hire, but Mr. Abernathy said the administration wants to begin interviews “as quickly as we can.”
How the interviewee thinks about criminal justice reform will be paramount, Mr. Abernathy said.
When asked if she would apply for the job, interim-commissioner Coulter equivocated, saying only that she wants to continue serving the city.
“I’ve lived in Philadelphia my whole life. There’s nothing that matters more to me than the safety of our residents and our police officers,” Ms. Coulter said to a gaggle of reporters after the noon-time presser.
News of Mr. Ross’ resignation and the unaddressed claims of sexual harassment and racial and gender discrimination, comes as the police department is still reeling from a social media scandal that resulted in 72 cops been temporarily pulled off the streets and ultimately 13 officers dismissed.
Thanks for reading! Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® and I’m Drumming for Justice!™
L to R: Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney and Philadelphia managing director Brian Abernathy, trailed by interim-police commissioner Christine Coulter (center). Photo credit: Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris – ©2019.
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