Rose Dell Shares Her Path to Becoming the First Female Assistant Chief

January 30, 2024

By Tracey Houston

Rose Dell ’97 didn’t set a goal to become the first female assistant chief at Yale Police. She said she would have laughed if someone told her she would one day wear a police uniform.

In her remarks following her swearing-in as assistant chief, Dell said her “why” is what led to a fulfilling and accomplished career in law enforcement.

As a sole provider and single mother of three young children, providing for her family was her “why.” She saw an ad at Home Depot for police officers at the New Haven Police Department that said the department welcomes and embraces single parents. She took the test and, six months later, entered the New Haven Academy.

“I come from a family of law enforcement officers. My father and his brothers served in the New York Police and Fire Departments. The idea of serving and protecting others was ingrained in me,” Dell said.

Faced with nervousness, uncertainty, and challenges in the early years of her career, she was reminded of her “why.”

“Balancing the demands of raising my children and working long, difficult shifts as a police officer tested my resilience; however, I was having some of the best days of my life,” Dell said.

As Dell moved up the ranks within the New Haven Police Department (NHPD), her “why” shifted to leading, supporting, and cultivating others. She was promoted to sergeant and later transferred to the Internal Affairs Unit, where she handled cases of officer misconduct and officer-involved shootings and helped develop more than 80 policies and procedures for the department.

Dell’s other accomplishments in her 15-year law enforcement career include being promoted to lieutenant and captain, spearheading the implementation of a body-worn camera program for all sworn officers, officer-in-charge of Internal Affairs, administrative lieutenant, administrative captain, public information officer, and accreditation manager. She oversaw various departments at the NHPD.

Serving with fellow Yale alumni and former chief of the NHPD, Chief Anthony Campbell ’95, ’09 M.Div, Dell said it was a “comfortable fit.”

“When the Chief approached me, it was a comfortable fit because we attended Yale together,” Dell said. “Having an opportunity to protect and serve the institution where I attended doing what I love is an honor.”

Her “why” was expanded when she heard a presenter at a police executive leadership conference talk about the importance of increasing the number of women in policing. Dell said statistics show that female officers use less force and receive fewer complaints than their male colleagues. When evaluated by the public, she said female officers receive more favorable responses.

As assistant chief for patrol operations, Dell is ready to assist the Yale Police Department in reaching its commitment to increasing the number of female officers to 30 percent by 2030.

“I am committed to advancing women in law enforcement and reclaiming the image of policing as one of the greatest and most noble professions,” Dell said.

She said her law enforcement career has exceeded her expectations.

“I’ve met and worked with incredible people who have mentored and believed in me throughout my career. Making history as the first female assistant chief at Yale is an honor. I want to mentor other females and help them develop their careers at the Yale Police Department,” Dell said.