By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Police Department has a new leader, but he’s a familiar top cop who has worn brass on his shoulders for quite some time. Richard Ross has been sworn in – at his alma mater – Central High School.READ MORE: Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf Calls On Lawmakers To Pass Fairness Act, Preventing Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation, Gender
Sporting a Central High tie, the new mayor, Jim Kenney, recalls thinking even before he was nominated what a fine Commissioner Richard Ross would be.
“Because I know what a talented individual he was, and one day in city council during a hearing, I whispered in his ear, ‘stay around, and he did.'”
When Kenney began assembling his team after the November election, he made Ross his first cabinet choice, calling it the second most important job in Philadelphia, after the mayor.READ MORE: Open For Business: Manayunk Chambers Guest House In Manayunk Can Be Anyone's Home Sweet Home
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Ross grew up just blocks away from Central High, Ross joined the department in 1989. He acknowledges that ‘these are challenging times.’
“They’re complex issues, with no easy fixes. But we have to confront them; we have to be bold about it and we have to understand that in order to be successful, we have to be more responsive and accountable to all of our neighborhoods.”
The 51-year-old Ross, most recently First Deputy Commissioner, had been overseeing daily field ops in the department under the just retired Commissioner, Charles Ramsey. Ross pledges to build on what Ramsey has done here.
Ross’ priorities include the expanded use of officer body cameras, and a continued emphasis on foot patrols. He says they will bring a different message on Ramsey’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy. Ross says police stops will happen when there is “reasonable suspicion.” He says the tactic will be employed when an officer suspects criminal activity.MORE NEWS: Former Philadelphia City Council President Anna Verna, 90, Dies