Chief Ronnell Higgins has served as Yale University’s Chief of Police since 2011 and, concurrently, as Director of Public Safety since 2015. In these roles, he oversees a department comprising 92 sworn officers and a Public Safety Department with more than 150 staff—all working to ensure and maintain the safety of students, faculty, and staff throughout the campus. Fiscal responsibility includes managing a $30M operating budget and oversight of 3 collective bargaining units.
Chief Higgins has served in leadership roles with Yale for more than 23 years, from his initial work as a Police Officer to progressive positions leading to Assistant Chief of Police in 2008.
As Yale University’s Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety, Chief Higgins has been highly instrumental in significantly reducing crime on campus, reducing UCR crimes to their lowest levels since Yale began reporting in 1985. He has spearheaded numerous programs supporting excellence in on-campus safety, community policing, and deep collaborations with stakeholders, leaders, and members of both the University and City of New Haven communities, while, at the same time, ensuring leading-edge focus on efforts to thwart terrorism as a result of state, national, and global threats. Additionally, he has led initiatives capitalizing on 21st century policing principles that have enhanced on-campus practices, including appropriate handling of numerous high-profile situations.
Chief Higgins has developed a reputation for thought leadership in on-campus policing and is recognized as a talented facilitator of greater integration (merging both the urban and the academic). He has advanced the training and professional development of security officers and safety managers as well as fully integrated and maximized use of public safety systems, leveraging technology throughout campus.
Active within the community and industry, he was appointed to serve on the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System by Connecticut State Senator Martin Looney and appointed a member of the Police Officers Standards and Training Council (POSTC) by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. He is an Executive Fellow with the National Policing Institute and serves as an Executive Board Member with My Brothers’ Keeper Mentoring Initiative (New Haven). A past president of the South Central Connecticut Chiefs of Police, Chief Higgins serves on the executive board for the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives for Connecticut (NOBLE). He was recently named among the “Most Influential in Security” by Security magazine.
Over the past few years, Chief Higgins has augmented his significant professional expertise through his work with the Department of Homeland Security’s graduate education program—completing a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies through an intensive, four-year program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. A graduate of the FBI’s National Academy, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement Administration from the University of New Haven and a certificate in Law Enforcement Education from the University of Virginia. Additionally, he successfully completed the Crisis Leadership in Higher Education seminar at Harvard’s Kennedy Graduate School of Education.
Deeply committed to educating those interested in law enforcement and criminal justice, Chief Higgins is a Practitioner in Residence at the University of New Haven, where he also serves as a consultant and advisor in the University’s Center for Advanced Policing and teaches Criminal Justice and Policing classes. He consults in North America and internationally on law enforcement, campus policing, and public safety topics through Margolis Healy & Associates and WSM Trainers and Consultants as well as by invitation of various campus and municipal police departments.