Richard Ross will head Philadelphia’s police force of 6,500 at a pivotal and difficult moment in the history of law enforcement, with police departments grappling with an unprecedented identity crisis in the face of growing calls to reform their policies and procedures and to commit to never-before-seen levels of transparency. The Philadelphia Daily News says he “brings something to the table that might make him uniquely qualified to navigate these choppy waters: a willingness to listen.” Ross says he will be reaching out to rowhouse dwellers and rank-and-file cops alike, at town-hall meetings and in small gatherings, to find out what they need from him. “In my view, if a police commander thinks he knows what every community wants, it’s a tragic error,” he said. “You don’t know what people need unless you listen to them. And that holds true for police officers, too.”
Ross, 51, joined the Police Department in 1989. Daytona Beach, Fl., Police Chief Mike Chitwood worked with Ross when both were rookie cops. “He’s hardworking, brilliant, one of the smartest people I know. He really epitomizes what’s on the side of that police car – honor, integrity and service,” Chitwood said. Charles Ramsey, the current commissioner, said one of Ross’ primary tasks, aside from keeping crime numbers at their recent lows, must be continuing to implement the dozens of reforms that the U.S. Department of Justice recommended after it evaluated the Police Department’s use-of-force policies when the city saw the number of police-involved shootings spike two years ago.