Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell A. Higgins, joining the ranks of former Department of Homeland Security officials, was named one of the 21 most influential people in the security industry this year.
The list, compiled and released by Security magazine this month, divides award recipients into five groups, including those in government and universities. According to Security magazine’s managing editor, Claire Meyer, the publication receives nominations from the candidates’ colleagues and associates and chooses the finalists based on the positive effects of their security initiatives in their professional surroundings.
The other 20 recipients this year include former National Intelligence Council Chairman Gregory Treverton and Microsoft’s senior security director, Brian Tuskan.
Higgins, who has worked at Yale for 20 years, said the honor is not only a personal achievement but also a validation to the general direction in which YPD has been progressing when it comes to enhancing public safety.
“This is about those men and women on the front line who each and every day are out there doing their job,” Higgins said. “I believe we are doing some amazing things.”
Higgins was nominated by Kurt Takahashi, the president of AMAG, a security hardware and software company that has partnered with the University in recent years to provide technological support for Yale in areas like designing security systems and access control. According to Takahashi, AMAG participated in developing campus facilities like Yale’s swipe access, which is a complex system partly due to the protection that student residential areas and research laboratories require.
Takahashi said he nominated Higgins for his efforts to integrate technology into public safety. Characterizing the YPD chief’s thinking as “ahead of the curve,” Takahashi praised Higgins’ ideas for better equipping the policing facilities around campus and using data derived from these efforts to detect and neutralize threats.
“The chief and Yale have been instrumental in defining the ways … we do our products and what new features to add,” Takahashi said. “They provide us with road maps to enhance the product, and input from the chief guides us in the right direction.”
The magazine article featuring the 21 security officials highlighted various programs that Higgins has implemented since he assumed office in 2011. For example, the police department’s weekly BlueStat meetings allow YPD’s division and unit heads to exchange information about crime statistics. Similar to meetings that the New Haven Police Department holds, BlueStat meetings usually include discussions about crimes that took place either on campus or in adjacent neighborhoods.
Higgins also underscored the importance of embedding modern technologies — the blue-light phones placed all over campus being an especially visible example — in promoting public safety, which is key to maintaining and even increasing efficiency.
In reference to future plans for the YPD, Higgins said it would be up to the Yale community to decide the general direction of the department.
Prior to assuming the YPD chief position, Higgins served as assistant chief under former Chief James A. Perrotti.
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