New police chief is ready for the challenge

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 7/10/24

A 16-year officer of the City of Newburgh Police Department and the newly appointed police chief, Brandon Rola speaks about his first few weeks on the job, what the job means for him and his goals as …

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New police chief is ready for the challenge


A 16-year officer of the City of Newburgh Police Department and the newly appointed police chief, Brandon Rola speaks about his first few weeks on the job, what the job means for him and his goals as the department’s newest leader.

“It is a great privilege to be here, to do it, and to be trusted to do it. It was certainly a little overwhelming at first, and to be completely honest, it still is a little overwhelming,” said Rola. “The support of this department, the Executive Office and the community is really giving me confidence to just dive in head first, and in the six weeks it’s been since I’ve been the chief, I feel like we’re getting a lot done already.”

Rola was appointed the department’s leader after former chief Anthony Geraci departed for a position with the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. While rising through the department’s ranks, Rola had the goal of becoming chief one day, taking the test back in 2022/2023, but did not expect to achieve that goal so soon. Rola added he was the only internal candidate for the position while there was a previous pool of external candidates.

Following the departure of Geraci, former Police Commissioner José A. Gomérez concluded a three-year service term on June 7. The position was posted to the city website after his departure and was set to close by Sunday, June 30. Rola said the city is looking into filling the commissioner position. “Whatever direction they [the city] decide to go with this, I support, and we’re going to definitely make it work,” said Rola.

An alum of the Wallkill Class of 2004, Rola attended Mount Saint Mary College, but was originally undecided about a career.

Becoming a physical education teacher was one of his ideas. But while working on a landscaping job for a state trooper, conversation about the trooper’s profession and experiences led Rola to pursue law enforcement as a career. Rola went on to pursue a degree in business from the Mount, graduating in 2008, and the same year in the fall, he entered the City of Newburgh’s police academy. Rola graduated from the police academy in early February of 2009, starting out as a patrol officer – the usual path for law enforcement officers.

Rola showed interest in tactical training and teaching, becoming a field training officer (FTO). From an FTO, Rola became certified as a firearms instructor, a defensive tactics instructor and a taser instructor. Rola also attended sniper school, Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) school and emergency service unit (ESU) school. After time as a patrol officer, an FTO within the patrol unit, a member of the tactical units, a sergeant and lieutenant, Rola now leads the city’s department.

Outside of work, Rola has started a family of his own. His parents are still in the area.

As chief, Rola sometimes can’t believe that 16 years have passed since he first started. Rola has seen the change in the city and has noticed a positive tone set, with comments about officers being more positive lately. “The department has changed, the city’s changed – all for the better. I’ve truly seen this city, the community, grow, the development, the people. This city is booming,” said Rola. “Just to think that now I’m the police chief of this booming, developing city is very humbling and I’m excited about it.”

While there is department positivity, Rola recognizes there have been rough periods over the years. “We struggled with retention, we struggled with salary. But moving forward, especially the last couple years, we’ve really started to hammer down on the retention working with the executive office, we’ve hammered down on the salaries,” said Rola. “The officers’ union got a great increase in salaries and are now competitive with all the surrounding departments. The supervisors union is actively negotiating with the executive office, and we’re very optimistic that a deal can be struck there which will get them right on par. We’ve been hiring more now than ever and keeping more now than ever. So all these things are really coming together at the same time, just furthering the success.”

Rola pointed out the department is young and is nearing full staffing, an accomplishment not seen in many years. A full staff of officers is 69 in total, Rola clarified. The city had also recently passed a resolution that allowed the department to accept a law enforcement technology grant in the amount of $1.7 million that would go towards a better records management system, more city cameras and more license plate readers. Drone technology is another area of interest for the department and the city was recently awarded another period of the Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) grant.

As a new chief in a diverse city, Rola believes the department should represent the community. He was happy to report four new promotions: a new Hispanic female lieutenant, a new African American sergeant and new Hispanic and African American detectives. “The police department as a whole, between the minority and female employees, we truly do have a great breakdown, and we want to continue that,” said Rola. “The police department should represent the community it serves.”

Rola encourages his officers to take every opportunity to be a part of the events that the community hosts, strengthening the relationships between the department and the residents and visitors who attend. As a new chief, Rola wants to continue to build relationships with the city from the council to the executive office, as well as with law enforcement partners such as the state police and the Orange County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices.

Heading into the remainder of the year, Rola will now be making his way to his first budgetary cycle, working to retain and hire officers and improve the safety of the city’s residents.

“I look at the community this way: If they’re successful, the police department’s successful. If the community is happy, we’re going to be happy. The community is the most important thing,” said Rola. “I can tell you, I love this department. I’ve had opportunities going up through the ranks to go to Westchester departments, Rockland departments, more money, less busy. I love this city. I love this department. This is the only place I’ve ever wanted to be, and now I get to be the chief of it.”