Distinguished Alumni Award

This honor is presented to a graduate who has brought distinction to the college and RIT through professional and/or community achievement.

View profiles from past Distinguished Alumni Award recipients »

Michael Ciminelli '78
Chief of Police, Rochester Police Department
College of Liberal Arts 2017 Recipient

Chief Michael Ciminelli has been Chief of the Rochester Police Department (RPD) since 2014. Previous to his appointment as Chief, he served as Interim Chief and as Deputy Chief of Police for the RPD Administration Bureau, responsible for administrative and support functions, including budget development and management, human resources, policy, training, vehicle fleet management, property and evidence, research and evaluation, labor relations and grant management. His former RPD assignments include Commanding Officer of the Special Operations Division, Commander of Patrol Division West, Sergeant, Homicide Investigator, and Patrol Officer.

Chief Ciminelli served as Chief of Police of the Elmira New York Police Department from 1996 to 2002. He was also an Assistant District Attorney for the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office from 1988 to 1991. His other professional experience includes serving as a Police Management Consultant and as an onsite Assessor for the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, and the New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Program. 

Chief Ciminelli has published articles in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, The Police Chief and Law and Order.

Chief Ciminelli has extensive training and instruction experience, both professional and academic. He has instructed law enforcement and public safety courses in the State of New York, the State of New Mexico, and at the federal level. He has served as Adjunct Faculty at George Mason University and Elmira College, teaching upper level courses in Police Administration and law.

As an attorney admitted to practice law in New York State and the District of Columbia, Chief Ciminelli also served as Deputy Chief Counsel for Operational Law for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. During his time at the DEA, Chief Ciminelli also was Chief of the Domestic Criminal Law Section, and a Staff Attorney in the International Law Section.

Chief Ciminelli holds a Juris Doctor degree, cum laude from the University of Buffalo Law School and is a native of Rochester, growing up on the city’s west side in the 19th Ward.