Meet James Sheppard '99

By David Henahan, director of communications

June 13, 2013

Student James Sheppard with mentorsJames M. Sheppard, (center in photo, flanked by Genesee Valley Center Dean Jonathan Franz, at left, and Acting President Meg Benke, at right) chief of the city of Rochester Police Department, has received special recognition as an alumnus of SUNY Empire State College’s Genesee Valley Center for his outstanding leadership and service to the community.

‌The citation states that Sheppard was selected, “In honor of your significant contributions, dedicated service and exemplary leadership as chief of police for the city of Rochester.”

Sheppard was honored at the Genesee Valley Center’s annual community celebration event by the center’s Dean Jonathan Franz as well as students, fellow alumni, faculty, community and government leaders.

“Chief Jim Sheppard is well known throughout the community for his outstanding leadership as demonstrated by his philosophy of policing in the spirit of service, which has been embraced by the entire Rochester Police Department,” said Franz. “Jim also was instrumental in the creation of our Leadership Development Program for police officers here at the Genesee Valley Center. We are pleased to present to Chief James Sheppard the Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service to the Community and proud to honor him as an alumnus.”

About James M. Sheppard

Sheppard earned his B.A. in criminal justice and community service from the college in 1999.

He was appointed the Rochester Police chief Dec. 10, 2010, and served with the Rochester Police Department for 27 years, rising to the No. 2 position in the RPD as deputy chief of operations before moving on in 2008, to serve as the director of safety and security for the Rochester City School District.

During his first year as police chief, he encouraged officers to embrace a philosophy of policing in the spirit of service, a belief that every person we encounter should receive the same level of service that an officer would expect a member of their own family to receive.

Sheppard also emphasizes community engagement, with a focus on youth, by regularly reading to students, hosting engagement events at the public safety building and adopting grade school classes.

In 2012, the men and women of the RPD, inspired by his example, volunteered in record numbers to engage young people through multiple means. Through the re?established Police Activities League, officers have a mechanism that allows them to easily identify volunteer opportunities.

Sheppard also encourages officers to see policing as a people business and to have a people-first mindset.

In addition to his B.A. degree from the college, he is a 1998 graduate of the FBI National Academy. Sheppard and his wife June reside in the city and are the parents of three grown children, James, Tamara and Stephanie.