Philadelphia police

‘No Longer Needed': Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Resigns

Deputy Commissioner Joseph Sullivan resigned after 38 years with the department, 10 days before a new police commissioner takes over

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Joseph Sullivan's dream of becoming a cop was like a lot of other kids'.

As a boy, Sullivan's father, who was a civilian employee of the Philadelphia police department, took him to see a graduation ceremony for new officers.

Now, after 38 years with the Philly force, the veteran cop who has held command positions across the department is leaving.

Former Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Sullivan, who resigned Jan. 31, 2020.

Sullivan confirmed in texts to NBC10 reporters that he was leaving, but that his departure is "not my decision."

He did not elaborate beyond that, except to add that he is "no longer needed."

The department is about to undergo a seismic change in its leadership ranks as the first permanent female commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, is set to take over Feb. 10.

Danielle Outlaw, the former chief of Portland, Ore., police, was introduced at Philadelphia City Hall on Monday afternoon. She is the first black female police commissioner and will oversee the fourth-largest municipal police department in the country.

Outlaw is coming across the country after years in police departments in Oakland, California and Portland, Oregon, and she is allowed to bring in her own command staff.

Sullivan, as a deputy commissioner, was not protected by union membership like rank-and-file officers.

Mayor Jim Kenney's spokeswoman declined to comment on Sullivan's resignation. The public affairs unit of the police department also declined to comment.

Outlaw, 43, served as the top-ranking police official in Portland for the last two years, since October 2017. She was the first black woman to hold the position there.

She will also the first black woman to lead the Philadelphia department as well. She succeeds outgoing interim Commissioner Christine Coulter, who took over after her predecessor, Richard Ross, left suddenly amid a sexual harassment scandal hanging over the department.

Contact Us