Students from the Criminal Justice classes attended a presentation given by special guest, James C. Rovella, Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP). He spoke to the students about his 39 year long career in public safety.
According to the Connecticut DESPP website, Commissioner Rovella joined the Hartford Police Department in 1981. Upon graduation from the Hartford Police Academy, he was assigned to the Patrol Division where he walked a beat on Barbour Street and Park Street and patrolled Charter Oak Terrace. In 1987, Commissioner Rovella was appointed to detective with the Department's Major Crimes Division where he specialized in homicide and cold case investigations. That career focus led him to become an Inspector with the State of Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice.
In 2006, Commissioner Rovella was promoted to Supervisory Inspector in the Chief State's Attorney's Office Cold Case Unit and was appointed Chief Inspector for the Office of the Chief State's Attorney in 2009. In this role, he was responsible for both operational and administrative duties for the Division of Criminal Justice.
In 2012, Commissioner Rovella returned to the Hartford Police Department as the Chief of Police. During his tenure, he worked closely with leaders across Hartford to institute changes to many traditional policing philosophies. The change centered around extensive and meaningful community outreach, prevention and a culture of service. Policy, practices and technology were aligned to this new philosophy. Commissioner Rovella sought partnerships and solutions from the community to steer people successfully away from the criminal justice system rather than into it.
His community outreach was bolstered by unprecedented transparency and communication. He was able to increase community trust through partnering with both grassroots and national organizations in social justice reform. The role of a Community Service Officer was imparted on all officers in the department. Public review of activity, trends and outcomes was instituted monthly.
Commissioner Rovella also led the development of the Capitol City Command Center, making the Hartford Police Department the law enforcement technology standard for the state. The Center includes preventive analytics, allows for data-driven decisions, supports day-to-day public safety, ensures safety during large public events and partners with Hartford-based employers on campus safety and preventative measures.
Commissioner Rovella is the recipient of the highest departmental award, the Chief's Medal of Heroism, and the recipient of numerous letters of commendation and acknowledgement for Exemplary, Meritorious and Distinguished Service. . He is a member of the Connecticut Chiefs of Police Association, the International Association of Police Chiefs (IACP) and Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
Prior to being named DESPP Commissioner, Commissioner Rovella was serving as the Colonel/Division Director of the State Environmental Conservation Police in the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Commissioner Rovella is approaching thirty-six years of marriage to Sandra Rovella. They have two sons, both of which are married with children. Commissioner Rovella and his wife Sandra are proud grandparents of a granddaughter and a grandson.