Richard Ross is officially Philly's new police commissioner
Richard Ross became the 30th police commissioner in the City of Philadelphia on Tuesday. He was sworn at his alma mater, Central High School, by newly inaugurated Mayor Jim Kenney.
"We didn't have to go outside of our department to find leadership," Kenney said, praising Ross' 26-year career to the police department.
— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) January 5, 2016
In his speech, Ross began by thanking God "proudly and with no shame." Second thanks went to his parents who were in the audience.
"Despite the long hours and the missed holidays and all the training sessions that took me away, I appreciate your support," Ross told them from the stage of Central High's auditorium.
The new police commissioner recalled an early conversation he had with Kenney about this ceremonial location. Kenney said "I'm unconventional," and immediately jumped on the idea of Ross' high school. Ross highlighted the long tradition of religious, racial and ethnic diversity at Central. He also said that the school projects an image of what the Philadelphia is all about, "a city of neighborhoods."
Next, he addressed the elephant in the room.
"It is a challenging time for law enforcement, I don't think anyone can deny that," Ross said. "Being the fourth largest department...we have some issues as well."
Ross' predecessor Charles Ramsey made internal reform a top priority during his eight-year tenure. Some say he waged a one-man war against bad cops. When Ross brought up the issue of reform, he directed his remarks to his officers.
"I want to emphasize the fact that none of the reform that we will...enact is a reflection of your service and your professionalism," he said. "You should hold your heads high for the work that you do."
Police Commissioner Richard Ross! A GREAT man who will lead the PPD well! Congratulations to my friend! pic.twitter.com/Hkg7MjrPM4
— Thomas J. Nestel III (@TNestel3) January 5, 2016
It was no secret that Ross had been eyeing the job of top cop for some time. Nonetheless, he spoke warmly of his roles throughout the department.
"I'm not the police commissioner, but I'm able to do a lot for people both in and outside of this department," Ross, the deputy commissioner, said in a video interview with Saint Joseph's University back in 2013. "And that means a lot to me, more than anything else."
He climbed the ranks over the last three decades, serving as the deputy commissioner under Charles Ramsey since 2008. When Ramsey announced his retirement in late 2015, Ross was immediately pegged as Ramsey's logical successor. Kenney formally tapped Ross for the job after his the November general election.
Ross concluded his speech with a challenge. He said the issues facing the police department — he didn't name specifics — are complex, but "we have to confront them we have to be bold about it."
"We need to be more responsive and more accountable to all of our neighborhoods," he continued. "We can't be afraid of that."