Ross Township was formed in November 1809 during a division of Pine Township and was named in honor of James Ross, a prominent Pittsburgh attorney. The boundaries remained the same for nearly 100 years until in 1905, the Borough of West View was formed from approximately one square mile of Ross Township.
Ross Township had one police officer at the time of its becoming a First Class Township. Two motorcycles were purchased in 1922 and a police car in 1924. Tragedy struck the Ross Police Department on Tuesday May 3rd 1932 when Officer Vernon Porter Moses was killed in the line of duty. Officer Moses was shot and killed during a vehicle stop of suspected bootleggers. By 1959, there were two radio equipped cars and 12 officers. In 1967, a wing to house the Police Department was added to the former Municipal Building that was located at 5325 Perrysville Avenue.
In 1971, the Ross Township Police Department was staffed by 35 full time officers, including the Police Chief. Vehicular equipment included 3 patrol cars plus 2 medically equipped station wagons. By 1976, the Police Department consisted of a Chief, 1 Captain, 4 Lieutenants, 5 Sergeants and 26 Patrolmen. In addition, there were 4 desk Officers, 1 Matron and an Animal Control Officer. The Police Department had 6 patrol cars, 2 fully equipped emergency wagons, an EMT car and a Rescue Squad car. The Police Officers were trained in emergency medical care.
Today, Ross Township is a suburban community of approximately 35,000 residents. It is bounded on the south by the City of Pittsburgh and Reserve Township, by Shaler and Hampton Townships on the east, the Town of McCandless on the north and by Bellevue, Avalon, Ohio Township, Kilbuck Township and Franklin Park Borough on the west. Ross also completely surrounds the Borough of West View.
Our department is comprised of 43 full time sworn officers, 2 office clerks and 21 school crossing guards. We consider ourselves a full service department with 1 Chief, 2 Lieutenants, 7 Sergeants, 4 Detectives, 1 full time D.A.R.E. Officer, 5 Traffic Officers, 2 Canine Officers and 21 Patrol Officers.
We are somewhat unique with respect to most other communities in Allegheny County. Although the population of Ross is approximately 35,000 residents, The Ross Police service anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 people on any given day. Three main arteries going north out of Pittsburgh pass through Ross Township. McKnight Road, one of the most highly traveled roads through the township, has an extensive business district within its 4 miles. Three major shopping malls, five strip malls and numerous individual businesses line both sides of the road from Babcock Blvd to Peebles Road. Approximately 75% of the criminal activity in Ross is generated within this corridor. Also within Ross Township’s 14.3 square miles, there are three senior citizen high rise complexes, an abundance of cluster type communities consisting single family homes and several multi-story apartment dwellings along with an urban type community on our southern border.
A new chapter was added to the history of the Ross Police Department with the construction of the new Ross Municipal Center in 2002. The Ross Police Department is now housed in the lower level of this state of the art facility located on McKnight Road. The new station is a testament to the progressive nature of the Ross Police Department.
Chief Vernon Porter Moses
During the 1930’s the John Maug Gang was terrorizing Allegheny County with a series of burglaries, armed robberies, and shootings of area police officers. During the evening of May 3rd. 1932 Ross Township Police Chief Vernon “Port” Moses was on patrol when he observed the Maug Gang driving on a local roadway.
A vehicle pursuit ensued and Chief Moses was able to pull in front of and stop the Maug Gang’s vehicle at the site of the former Keating Trolley Car Barn located at the corner of Perrysville Ave. and Westview Avenue.
Chief Moses pulled in front of the robber’s vehicle and exited his patrol car, service pistol and flash light in hand. Witnesses stated that Chief Moses yelled, “You can’t get away with this”. Maug Gang member Ed Turpack exited the vehicle and stated to fellow gang member John Maug, “This man means business.” John Maug and Ed Turpack then fired two shots at Chief Moses, striking him in the right shoulder and face. Chief Moses died at the scene as Maug and Turpack fled to the 22nd St. Bridge in the City of Pittsburgh where they threw their guns into the Monongahela River.
On January 23rd 1933 the Maug Gang were brought to trial in the killing of Chief Moses. Common Pleas Judge George V. Moore sentenced John Maug and Ed Turpack to 70-140 years in Pennsylvania’s Western Penitentiary. Scores of armed Deputies and Officers were assigned to the trial because of fears that the gang would attempt an escape from the Allegheny County Courthouse.
On April 27th. 1933 Maug and Turpack were able to escape from Western Penitentiary when they climbed down a rope that they fastened to the Prison’s Chapel roof. In order to fool the Prison Guards during inmate counts, Maug and Turpack made a set of dummies and left them in their bunks.
In May of 1933 Maug and Turpack were arrested when they attempted to rob a Western Union Office in Lakewood, Colorado. They spent the rest of their lives in prison.