During an eight-year stint as the chief of police in Granville, Mass., Jose Rivera made community policing a priority, initiating a number of programs for both adults and children, including a citizens police academy, ride-a-longs, and bicycle patrols.
It's one of the highlights of a career in law enforcement that has spanned 22 years, says Rivera, HCC's new director of Public Safety. Rivera started his new job March 21 and says he hopes to bring that same community policing philosophy to the HCC campus.
"I'm very proud of the work I did there," Rivera said. "I really enjoyed my tenure as chief. I felt I was in a unique position to effect change, and I think I can do the same here."
Rivera spent most of his first week at HCC "visiting," he said, meeting people and touring the college's buildings and satellites.
"I think with a small town, much like in higher ed, you really have to get to know the people quite well and build up a collaborative effort to deal with common issues," Rivera said. "I think that experience is going to work well."
Rivera got his start in law enforcement in 1994 as a patrolman with the Amherst Police Department, where for two years he was a member of the department's mounted unit. Since then, he has worked for campus police departments at Massasoit Community College, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and, most recently, as the assistant director of Public Safety at Springfield Technical Community College.
From 2006 to 2014, he served as the chief in Granville, a western Massachusetts community with a population of 1,500.
Rivera, who prefers to be called "Joe," was formally introduced to the HCC community last Tuesday at the monthly meeting of the HCC Board of Trustees.
"He's the perfect candidate for the job," said William Fogarty, vice president of Administration and Finance, who oversees campus police. "We're thrilled he's with us and we expect great things."
Rivera, 45, was born in California. His family moved to Salem, Mass., when he was five years old. His father is Dominican and his mother Indonesian, and he is a graduate of Salem High School. He started his undergraduate education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and completed his bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Curry College in Milton.
He met his wife, Sarah, an attorney and native of Westhampton, Mass., while the two of them were working at the Burger King in Northampton. They live in Southwick with their two daughters.
Rivera was chosen from a field of 43 applicants and will supervise a campus police department of 12 officers. He replaces interim director Lou Barry, the retired police chief of Granby, Mass., and an adjunct professor of criminal justice at HCC.
He was hired with a couple of major priorities in mind, he said: one, to increase the visibility of campus police; two, to help develop and implement a comprehensive emergency management plan for the college.
"Training is going to be a key piece," he said. "You can have the best plan in the world, but if you don't practice it, you're not going to know how well it's going to work. That's a big undertaking, but working together, collaboratively, we'll get it done."
PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Left) Jose Rivera, HCC's new director of Public Safety. (Right) President Bill Messner welcomes Rivera to HCC.