CPP alumnus appointed as Arcadia’s first police chief of Japanese descent

The Arcadia Police Department announced late last month that Cal Poly Pomona alumnus Roy Nakamura (’91, social sciences) will serve as its police chief. Nakamura would serve as the City of Arcadia’s first police chief of Japanese descent.

After serving the Arcadia Police Department for the past 28 years, Nakamura will take command as police chief on Jan. 9, 2021 following the retirement of current Police Chief Robert Guthrie.
In light of his promotion, Nakamura expressed his gratitude to the Arcadia Police Department for appointing him as police chief.

(Courtesy of Roy Nakamura)

“It is a fantastic opportunity to serve as police chief,” said Nakamura. “I am honored and privileged to lead the men and women of the Arcadia Police Department.”

With Arcadia’s dark history of incarcerating nearly 19,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans at the Santa Anita racetrack during World War II, Nakamura’s promotion marks a memorable moment in the city’s history.

“No doubt, it was a regrettable time in history, but I am very confident that if we are faced with a similar situation today, our nation, state and city would respond much differently than in the past,” said Nakamura. “The City of Arcadia has been good to me for so many years.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2019, Arcadia reported a population of 57,939 with 60.8% of the city’s residents reporting Asian descent. Along with these statistics, Nakamura believes his city is “one of the finest cities that you see in Southern California.”

Nakamura served as an officer for the Arcadia Police Department from 1992 to 2002 before being promoted to sergeant and later lieutenant in 2009. He made captain in 2019.

Considering recent protests and tensions surrounding law enforcement, Nakamura discussed how he will address calls for police reform as police chief.

“Calls for reform reflect on-going issues and require long-term solutions that cannot be ignored,” explained Nakamura. “I believe our department has worked to meet the calls for reform and we continue to do so.”

Nakamura noted that it is difficult to “paint the entire police department or law enforcement with one stroke of the same brush.” He believes each city and community poses different calls for reform that may not pertain to another city’s issue.

He strives to stay committed to serving his city and continues to follow his father’s motto: “Don’t toot your own horn and let your actions speak for you.”

As a student at CPP, Nakamura initially studied engineering. However, he aspired to become a police officer, so he soon switched to studying social sciences.

“I came to a crossroad where I felt that I was getting any younger and decided to pursue something that I really wanted to do,” said Nakamura. “I didn’t want to look back 30 years down the road, asking myself why I didn’t try to pursue a career as a police officer.”

Nakamura’s education and obtaining a college degree stood as the top priorities for both him and his parents. After leaving his homeland Guam and moving to California, he enjoyed the atmosphere of CPP and it was a “worthwhile experience” that he would not trade for anything else.

Nakamura encouraged current CPP students to continue to work hard in college and stick to their goals. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, he wishes for students to stay strong and finish their college education.

“The value of education is not for anyone else to judge and it is one thing that nobody can ever take away from you,” said Nakamura. “It may not guarantee success, but it does provide you with several opportunities in the future.”

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