The NYPD’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, Chief of Department Rodney Harrison, will be retiring at the end of December after a distinguished 30-year career, the agency said in a Thanksgiving morning announcement.
Harrison’s departure, slated for Dec. 30, comes at a time of anticipated changes in leadership at the NYPD, with Mayor-elect Eric Adams expected to soon name a new police commissioner.
The current commissioner, Dermot Shea, didn’t name a successor for Harrison, the only NYPD member ever to rise from cadet to the top of the department’s chain of command. Harrison had only become Chief of Department in February 2021 , following the retirement of his immediate predecessor, Terence Monahan.
“Rodney has been not only a trusted advisor, and friend, but exactly the kind of innovative leader our city and our department has needed in these challenging times,” said Shea. “He has performed in every rank – from patrol officer, to undercover officer displaying tremendous valor, to Chief of Department – with knowledge, skill, integrity, and a great passion for our continuing mission to always protect life and property and to build lasting relationships with those we serve. We will miss him, but we wish him well.”
Harrison, who grew up in Rochdale Village, Queens, became an NYPD officer in June 1991, at the urging of his father. At first, he was assigned to the 114th Precinct based in Astoria, Queens, but was later re-assigned to the NYPD Narcotics Division, working to combat violent drug dealers along the way.
He earned the Departmental Combat Cross in the mid-1990s after being shot by a drug dealer while working undercover as part of an investigation. Harrison later was promoted to detective, and worked in various Brooklyn commands.
Harrison gained a leadership position after being assigned as executive officer to the Bronx’s 47th Precinct; he later served as commanding officers of the 28th and 32nd Precincts in Manhattan. After being promoted to deputy chief, Harrison worked in the Internal Affairs Bureau, followed by holding posts in Staten Island and Brooklyn.
In 2018, Harrison became Chief of Patrol, where Shea said he became an influential figure in helping 20,000 officers adapt to the NYPD’s Neighborhood Policing Strategy. The following year, Shea appointed Harrison as Chief of Detectives, making him the first Black member of the NYPD to hold that title.
Looking back on his career, Harrison said he is “extremely proud” of his service to the city, and is honored that two of his daughters, Amber and Tyra, are continuing the family tradition within the NYPD, as they currently serve as patrol officers.
“It’s been an honor to be a part of this great police department, to carry out our intelligence-driven policing strategies, to help develop several lasting reforms, and to build meaningful dialogue with our city’s young people,” Harrison said. “And I am privileged that two of my children will carry on this important work.”