Acting Philadelphia police commissioner sees 'tremendous opportunity' ahead

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine Coulter says she wants the full-time job permanently.

She says every day is now an audition and a tremendous opportunity.

A week ago, Christine Coulter got the call.

Then-Commissioner Richard Ross told her he was stepping down as the top cop. She was stunned.

"I was saddened that he was leaving our department. He has done a lot of good things for a lot of people," Coulter said.

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Former Commissioner Richard Ross says he was not forced out, denies allegations. Walter Perez reports during Action News at 4pm on August 21, 2019.

Ross resigned after two female officers filed a civil suit against the city, claiming police failed to investigate pervasive sexual harassment. Coulter, who is also named in the suit, won't comment on the case.

But the 30-year veteran oversaw training in the department, including sexual harassment, before being named commissioner. She admits, if the allegations are true, the training has been inadequate.

"I know that it happens. I don't know as to what level. Later this week I have a roundtable scheduled with officers really, in my own mind, find out if it's really widespread, is it isolated, or a mixture of both."

Coulter says her greatest strength is her love of the city and the department.

She calls marketing her greatest weakness.

"We don't do a good job of marketing. We do good things every day," she said.

Coulter says she'll continue the department's focus on crime reduction and community policing, but also an emphasis on the opioid crisis and the department's role in combating the issue. But she stopped short of committing to safe injection sites.

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Mayor reacts to resignation of fmr. Commissioner Ross. Maggie Kent reports during Action News at 4pm on August 21, 2019.

She says she wants to study the sites some more, and talk to people who were on Mayor Jim Kenney's trip to Toronto to see safe injection sites there.

"What I do know is there are a lot of people hurting and a lot of people dying, and it'll be my role to find out how police fit," Coulter said.

Coulter says she doesn't know when a permanent commissioner will be named by the mayor.

Asked whether an outsider needs to be brought in to change any perceived culture problems, she says simply: the best person should get the job.
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