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Bergen favorite son Ralph Rivera nominated as Trenton police director

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

SHOUT OUT: Knowledge, experience, integrity and vision all describe Ralph Rivera Jr., a former New Jersey State Police major and Bergen County undersheriff who today was nominated to command Trenton’s police department.

But perhaps the Ridgefield Park native’s greatest strength is his ability to remove barriers between police and the public.

A cop’s cop? Definitely.

But a man of the people, as well, one who’s given heart-to-heart talks to countless young people on how to overcome the dangers they face from drugs, alcohol and gangs.

Accomplished? Put it this way:

His resume would make Clint Eastwood blush.

Rivera spent 27 years with the NJSP before retiring in December 2004. He was the commanding officer of the Community Partnerships Section, where he helped craft the “Essex County Anti-Crime Partnership,” aimed at curbing crime and improving the quality of life for citizens of Irvington.

Rivera was also deputy executive director of the Juvenile Justice Commission – and was considered for the NJSP’s top job, which went to another of Bergen’s favorite sons, Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes.

Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor

He handled dangerous assignments, as well, investigating organized crime and gangs, as well as people who threatened judges and elected or appointed state officials, including the governor.

Rivera also was a member of the elite NJSP/Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Newark Joint Terrorism Task Force (NJTTF), which investigated international and domestic terrorism throughout the United States.

When Leo McGuire became Bergen County sheriff in 2004, he made Rivera an executive undersheriff responsible for supervising the department’s day-to-day operations. He also did a lot of the budget work and was the designated stand-in when McGuire wasn’t available – the first Latino second-in-command in the department’s history. Rivera held the post for five years.

Nearly 200 municipal, county and state police officers from New Jersey who volunteered for a two-week trip to New Orleans to help restore order and safeguard people and property after Hurricane Katrina included Rivera. It meant missing his then-11-year-old son’s first football game, a situation that clearly weighed heavily on him.

Rivera is a graduate of the elite FBI National Academy, a Certified Affirmative Action Mediator, a Certified Public Manager and a member of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education.

He received his bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Fordham University and earned his Masters of Arts degree in Education from Seton Hall.

Trenton’s city council is expected to vote on Rivera’s appointment April 3 – that is, if they’re done reading his resume by then.

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