Richard Ross Named Next Police Commissioner

As expected, Philly deputy commissioner steps up to the top job.

As expected, Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross is stepping up to take Philadelphia’s top police job, replacing retiring Commissioner Charles Ramsey, and capping a long, quarter-century climb through the department’s ranks.

Mayor-elect Jim Kenney will reportedly introduce Ross as his choice at a midday news conference.

The appointment drew quick praise from law enforcement observers.

“He will be a great leader for the department and will undoubtedly continue on the progressive path established by Commissioner Ramsey,” said SEPTA Police Chief Tom Nestel, who had been considered a long-shot possibility for the job. “The city will be in good hands.”

When Ramsey announced his retirement last month, Philly Mag’s Patrick Kerkstra offered reasons why Ross would be the natural choice for Kenney.

• He’s the PPD’s #2, and by all accounts he’s very good at his job. Ross is seen as having a real mastery of core policing operations. At this morning’s press conference Ramsey was asked about Ross. His reply? “There’s nobody out there any better.”
• He’s popular in the department, among both brass and rank and file. That’s important. Ross is considered a cop’s cop. He’s respected, but also genuinely liked.
• Sources say he’s the choice of the politically potent Fraternal Order of Police. That would be the same FOP that endorsed Kenney for mayor.
• Ross is adept at politics, without being seen by City Hall figures as overly political. Ross has solid relationships with City Council President Darrell Clarke, and with Northwest pols like Dwight Evans and Marian Tasco, whose early endorsement of Kenney in the primary election was pivotal. Those sorts of relationships are important in a city like Philadelphia, and so too are his political skills.
• He’s African American, in a city where African Americans comprise 44 percent of the population, the largest racial demographic in Philadelphia. For reasons of equity, common sense and politics, a white mayor would be unlikely to choose to a white police commissioner in a city like Philadelphia, particularly in the post-Ferguson age.

Here’s his official bio at the PPD website. “Ross was born and raised in Philadelphia, and joined the department in April 1989. He’s served in a wide array of capacities and departments, including the detective bureau, homicide, and Internal Affairs. He has an undergraduate degree in Labor & Industrial Relations from Penn State University, and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Saint Joseph’s University.”

More to come.