Allegheny County

Ross Township Police Chief gets vote of no confidence in light of investigation involving sergeant

ROSS TOWNSHIP — The Ross Township Police Association announced Monday that, in light of the most recent incident involving Ross Township Police, they conducted a “no-confidence” vote in Chief Joseph Ley.

The results of the vote were:

  • 27 votes for no confidence
  • 6 votes for confidence

In a letter, the Executive Board of the Ross Township Police Association asked for their members’ input on the matter of confidence in Chief Ley to “effectively lead and manage the police department.” They also said their previous efforts in this matter brought much needed attention to the mismanagement and disparities in the group.

The letter continued by saying, “Unfortunately, the No Confidence Vote did not have its desired effect which was to change our work environment for the better. In light of the recent controversies, we are planning to submit another “no-confidence” vote to the Board of Commissioners. Our hope is that they will hold Chief Ley accountable for his failure to address any issues brought to light in the first No Confidence Vote. "

The Police Association said in recent months, there were “unnecessary policy changes, tedious activity logs, frivolous uniform changes and most recent an edict announcing zero tolerance on policy and procedure violations.” The letter said cameras were placed in the break and patrol rooms.

The letter also related this situation to an incident in 2019 that lead to Officer Mark Sullivan being fired over computer crime charges.

The letter went on to address the incident involving the sergeant under fire for showing a video of a teenage boy performing a sex act on his personal cellphone, saying:

“Unfortunately, over the last week, our department’s reputation has once again been tarnished. Following inappropriate and potentially unlawful conduct by one of our officers, one of our members followed policy and procedure by properly reporting the incident through the chain of command. Instead of appropriately addressing this serious matter, Chief Ley was adversarial with our member who reported the misconduct. It is suspected that this matter was not handled with the urgency it required because the officer accused of the misconduct is aligned with Chief Ley.

Let’s not forget that Officer Sullivan was placed on administrative leave immediately when Chief Ley suspected serious misconduct. Patrol room computers were seized. Officer Sullivan languished on administrative leave while the entire department was subjected to months and months of questioning by the lieutenants and interrogation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. In contrast, the officer in the current situation remains on active duty.

Had Chief Ley handled the current alleged misconduct appropriately and in accordance with policy and procedure, the Association would not have been left with the responsibility to notify the Township Manager and Board of Commissioners. Nothing has changed from the last Vote of No Confidence. I suspect more officers than not would say things have only gotten worse.

We therefore feel it appropriate to take another No Confidence Vote to assess the state of the department. We will be handing out ballots to vote on this matter today.”

The Ross Township Commissioners Meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22.

The Police Association asked that all questions about this matter be sent to Attorney Joe Pass at with Jubelirer, Pass & Intrieri, P.C.

Battle at Tuesday meeting

It is essentially a battle brewing between the Ross Township Police Chief and some officers of the police union. The union claims Chief Joseph Ley minimized a serious, potentially criminal incident involving a sergeant in his department.

The Executive Board of the Ross Township Police Association says the adversarial nature between the chief and some union members is systemic and they want to see something done.

Most recently, the union claims an officer reported a serious and potentially criminal incident on January 26, after a sergeant allegedly showed a video of a teenage boy engaging in a sex act on his personal phone to other officers. The officer who reported the incident says the chief minimized the situation and did not report it immediately.

On Tuesday night, at a Ross Township Commissioners meeting, the President of the Commissioners, Dan DeMarco, read out a lengthy statement standing by Chief Ley.

“Any allegation that Chief Ley failed to promptly investigate the allegations is false,” DeMarco said publicly. “Not all of the facts have yet been included accurately.”

DeMarco says Chief Ley started an investigation the same day and the board of commissioners instructed the township manager in an executive session to ask an outside law enforcement agency to investigate the allegations.

“The office of the PA Attorney General stepped in and opened an independent investigation in which the township anticipates receiving a report in the near future,” DeMarco continued.

Monday night, the police union says for the second time, members voted no confidence in Chief Ley to lead and manage the department effectively, citing:

  • Unnecessary policy changes
  • Tedious activity logs
  • Frivolous uniform changes
  • Cameras in break room & patrol room

Chief Ley tells Channel 11 he does not have a comment and to speak to the township manager.

DeMarco says if an officer is disciplined for any reason, their employment status will not be made public. That is township protocol.