La’Ron Singletary ’06, left, formally takes over his duties on July 1 as Rochester’s new Chief of Police. He took the reins from acting police chief and fellow Keuka College alumnus Mark Simmons ’10 M’15, shown at right. (Photo provided)
Two and a half months after being nominated by Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren as the city’s new Chief of Police, La’Ron Singletary ’06 has formally assumed his duties.
The Rochester City Council approved the former acting chief’s promotion last month – a decision that held little in the way of drama. Still shy of 40, Chief Singletary has spent half his life with the Rochester Police Department and is seen as a positive and popular presence throughout the ranks.
He’s also a student of law enforcement – a trait he said was sharpened in Keuka College’s Adult and Online Education Criminal Justice program.
“Definitely the courses I had at Keuka College prepared me for this position,” Chief Singletary says from his new office. “Higher education prepares you for analytical thinking – the critical thinking you have to do.”
A Lifetime of Preparation
Chief Singletary is nothing if not prepared for his new responsibilities. His roles at the RPD, which he joined at age 19, have included sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and deputy chief.
“Keeping it fresh is my motto,” he says. “I’ve never stayed in one post for more than three years. It’s been exciting.”
His new position has been a lifelong dream. Indeed, he began focusing on a career in law enforcement while still in grade school.
“It was probably around fifth grade,” he recalls. “There was a DARE teacher, Lucille Evert, who inspired me by coming into the class to talk about DARE – drug abuse resistance education. To me, it was not about that drug teaching, it was about the relationships that officer was able to develop with students in the class.”
Keuka College Connections
Chief Singletary says the relationships he formed at Keuka College were just as important – and continue to this day.
He cites the College’s Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Rich Martin – who was promoted to sergeant along with Chief Singletary during his time on the force – as someone he consults on issues of leadership.
And he took the reins from a fellow Keuka College alum, Mark Simmons ’10 M’15, who served nearly a year as interim Rochester Police of Chief.
“Keuka College definitely has some RPD folks that we can tout,” Chief Singletary says.
Another connection: AOE Adjunct Instructor of Criminal Justice Craig Doran, a New York State Supreme Court Justice and administrative judge for the state’s 7th Judicial District.
“We interact on a regular basis and I see the positive things he’s doing with the courts,” says Chief Singletary. “We have a prior relationship dating back to Keuka College, when he was one of my professors. At a college like Keuka, you build those networks.”
What Chief Singletary is focused on building now is community trust, he says.
“The major thing I really want to focus on is the perception issue that law enforcement officers face, not just in Rochester but across the country,” he says, referencing high-profile instances of professional misconduct. “No matter what happens, whether it’s in Florida, Georgia, Colorado, or anywhere else, it impacts all of us who wear the uniform.”
It takes time to change the culture, Chief Singletary says, but, given the right support, vigilant policing can indeed make the difference.
“The number one thing is, it is our job is to continue to move crime in the right direction, and that’s in a downward direction,” he says. “My biggest thing is, am I giving my police officers the necessary knowledge, abilities, and tools to go out and do their job. The world of policing is constantly evolving. People expect us to be mental health therapists, family therapists, teachers, doctors, lawyers – I need to be sure I’m giving my police officers the necessary tools.”
As he navigates these difficult waters, Chief Singletary is already gathering advice from a trusted colleague and fellow Keuka College alum: Deputy Chief Simmons.
“He told me one of the biggest things you can do is just be who you are,” Chief Singletary says. “’Continue to have that accessible relation with the rank and file. Don’t lose touch with the rank and file.’ It’s great to have him as a deputy chief who I can rely on and have frank conversations with.”