Commissioner Ronnell Higgins Biography

Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection

1111 Country Club Road, Middletown, CT 06457
Executive Assistant to the Commissioner:
Fendi Bentley-Samuels;








Ronnell Higgins serves as the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP). In this role, Higgins leads an agency of public servants dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of life for all by providing a broad range of public safety services, training, regulatory guidance, and scientific services, utilizing enforcement, prevention, education and state of the art science and technology. As Commissioner, Higgins brings a passion for inclusive and collaborative leadership, with the primary goal of ensuring that every voice is heard, and the citizens of Connecticut have access to necessary public safety resources.


Prior to being appointed Commissioner, Higgins served as Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety and then Associate Vice President of all Public Safety at Yale University. This crucial role centered on developing relationships and partnerships at Yale and within the greater New Haven community to ensure access to public safety resources for all. Additionally, he served as a liaison to the broader New Haven community by identifying areas where campus safety, community safety, and community engagement intersect.


While leading public safety efforts at Yale, Higgins was highly instrumental in significantly reducing crime on campus and reducing UCR crimes to their lowest levels since Yale began reporting in 1985. He developed and led 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 a leading-edge focus on efforts to reduce community violence. Additionally, he drove initiatives capitalizing on 21st century policing principles that enhanced on-campus practices, including appropriate handling of numerous high-profile situations.


Considered a principled and trusted advisor, Higgins has earned 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) and leveraging local, state, and federal resources. He has maximized the use of public safety systems, leveraging technology to achieve community safety.


His active involvement in various government and community groups has earned him recognition for his influence and unwavering dedication to his work, including being named among the "Most Influential People in Security" by Security magazine and one of the "100 Most Influential Black People in Connecticut" by the Connecticut NAACP.


Higgins received a Bachelor of Science degree in law enforcement as well as a Master of Arts degree in security studies. He firmly believes in the value of listening, learning, and leading as essential components in the pursuit of excellence in public safety and law enforcement.