Ronnell Higgins will lead the Yale Police Department, University President Richard Levin announced in an e-mail to the Yale community Thursday afternoon.

Higgins, who has been the department’s assistant chief since 2008, will be sworn in on Feb. 4, Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner said.

“I am humbled – it is an absolute honor to lead such a great group of men and women at the Yale Police Department,” Higgins said in an interview with the News.

The search for a new YPD chief started in early November, and was narrowed down to five finalists in January, Lindner said. Higgins was of of two internal candidates considered finalists, and this may have ultimately helped him in the competition for the role of chief.

“Higgins understand the unique needs and challenges of the Yale community and policing in New Haven,” Lindner said. “But in my mind, Higgins would have been the choice even if he was an external candidate.”

The YPD’s last national search for chief resulted in the internal promotion of then-Assistant Chief Perrotti in 1998.

Corrections: January 20, 2011

Due to incorrect information given, an earlier version of this post misstated the number of finalists for the position.