Anthony Bellamy, the deputy chief of Cornell University Police Department, will be Cornell’s next chief of police.
Bellamy, who joined CUPD in 2004 and has been deputy chief since 2019, will make Cornell history as CUPD’s first Black chief. He spoke with the Chronicle about the career path that led to his new post, his vision for CUPD and how he wants to make himself available to the campus community.
Question: What’s been your experience of being part of Cornell police for almost 20 years, compared with your previous work in law enforcement?
Answer: Cornell has resources readily available for anyone experiencing a concern or needing assistance. CUPD often serves as a conduit to resources like Housing and Residential Life, the West Campus House System or the Care and Crisis Services team. We pride ourselves on these relationships and partnerships, which benefit our students, faculty, staff, alumni, families and community members.
Q: Can you give me a sense of your background and how you came to Cornell?
A: I came to Cornell in 2004 from Poughkeepsie, New York, the Dutchess County area. At Dutchess I was a deputy sheriff for seven years. I was also a volunteer firefighter, then spent time working both in law enforcement and for the Poughkeepsie Fire Department. I met my wife during this time. She’s from the area. We made plans for me to move, and I was lucky to find a position at Cornell University Police Department.
Q: What do you think you bring to the position of chief and where do you see the organization heading?
A: Dave Honan has led the organization so well, so I am excited to continue this positive direction. Introducing ourselves, and building trust, is always our focus. Listening to our community, really learning what they need and how they want to be served, is so important. My vision is to continue our progress in partnership with the community. We must understand each other and take into consideration everybody’s safety first, making sure we’re treating people with empathy.
Q: And how do you see the organization working inside this larger framework of the Division of Public Safety?
A: It’s simple, in my mind. We’re all here to support our students and make sure they become successful. We want them to gain an understanding of the world inside and beyond the classroom. We hope they will leave Cornell and be supportive of the community where they reside and work after graduation. We can help build and deepen this understanding with the students through the new public safety model. I can’t wait to be part of that.
Q: Speaking of students, I understand you continued your education while working here?
A: I started at Cornell with an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Dutchess Community College. I thought, if I’m going to do law enforcement here, I needed to be better, I needed to learn more. While working the evening shift, I went to Keuka College to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice systems. After that, I turned to my wife and I said, “I think if I want to move further in the department, I need a master’s degree.” As much as I loved criminal justice, I wanted to experience something different. So I went to Marist College, online, for public administration. That was a challenge, and it opened my eyes. With the MPA, you’re looking at ways to help support people.
Q: What do you see as the big challenges on the horizon, for Cornell police and for public safety at Cornell?
A: Through the Public Safety Advisory Committee, we learned that a certain percentage of the community, particularly students, don’t necessarily want to go to the police or even trust the police. We need to listen and learn more about the roots of those feelings, which students bring with them to Cornell from around the world. The more we understand our community, the greater the chance we can create and grow trust in our community.
Part of this process involves CUPD working with our partners to define the kinds of situations we, as sworn officers, respond to – and what types of situations or concerns are better served by having the Community Response Team or other Cornell staff members respond. The new model is new to all of us. We have a lot to learn.
Personally, I am also committed to strengthening our recruiting and hiring, to build and maintain a diverse, talented, caring and experienced police department that reflects our community.
Q: For people who don’t know you or might be skeptical about policing on campus, as the new face of Cornell Police, what do you want them to know about you?
A: I’ve been a consistent face here at Cornell police. Right now, I do a lot of things behind the scenes, meetings with our peers in the Dean of Students Office and Campus Life, the house residential community, the Community Response Team. As chief, I will aim to be present and public, so students, faculty, staff, and our entire community know me and know I am available. We want everyone at Cornell to know that the police department is here to support them, be a resource for them, and to work with them.
What I talk a lot about to our staff is not to react, but respond. We’re at this juncture in law enforcement where we need to respond to what’s in front of us and not just react to it. That’s a big expectation I have for myself, and for Cornell police.
Q: Is there anything else about yourself that you’d want the campus community to know?
A: I recognize the importance of engaging with all community members. This allows for inclusive and transparent conversations to determine shared responsibilities and goals. My hope is these dialogues build trust with the Cornell community.