While Bringing Change as Rhode Island City’s First Black Chief of Police, MET Alum Calls Higher Education an Officer’s ‘Most Important Tool’

On January 4, 2021, Anthony Roberson (MET’11) was sworn in as police chief of the Central Falls, Rhode Island police department. It was the culmination of a long journey for the public servant, a believer in the power of positive relationships who is dedicated to leading a culture shift in the Central Falls Police Department by championing philosophies of de-escalation and community engagement.

Not only the city’s first Black chief of police, Roberson is also Rhode Island’s only police chief with a doctorate, and only the third Black municipal chief in the state’s history. Ascending to his position at a time when communities nationwide are examining reform efforts in policing, Roberson has met calls for social justice by committing his department to training in the principles and skills of nonviolence.

“There’s different roles that can lend themselves to bettering society, but there’s no position quite like law enforcement, because you have that direct, on the ground, initial contact with people,” Roberson told the Boston Globe. “There’s no other profession like it, where you have access to the public in such a way that can benefit their lives.”

A graduate of BU MET’s Criminal Justice master’s degree program, Roberson sees higher education as essential to progress and success in the field. “As a law enforcement officer, you go into a variety of situations, all the way from homicides to minor disturbances. When you go in there with education, you go in there with more solutions available to you,” he told the Globe. “Like we say, we have the pepper spray, the cuffs and all that — those are just tools, right? Education is another tool, and arguably the most important tool that you can use.”

Read more in the Boston Globe.