Carlos Rivera

Former President, Puerto Rican Police Association

Carlos Rivera has been a Chicago Police Officer for 27 years. Within his time with the force, a majority of it has been spent in the field where Rivera has been able to foster positive relations between hispanics and Chicago Police. His initiative to better relations stems from a childhood fear of police.

Rivera describes his interaction with the police growing up as tense. “As a kid, I would run from the police, I was so afraid of the police. I would let the officer know that I had a job, that I went to school, that I was on my way home or on my way to work. But we were very young, we were pretty much terrified, in part because the things we saw.”

Since then, his Hispanic identity has been an advantage to him because he understands the culture, speaks Spanish, and has established relations with community leaders where he was assigned.

As former president of the Puerto Rican Police Association, Rivera’s focus on bettering not only the community but also within the Chicago Police Department led an initiative to help officers study for promotional exams with workshops and host events like picnics to celebrate their identity.

“Everything can’t just be work, work, work. So we try to have several events during the year that we can get together and not so much to talk shop, but to get together with our families. Musicians come in, it’s more of a cultural event.”

Ultimately, Rivera believes it boils down to trust. “We want to show the community that we are not just out there enforcing the law and locking up members of the community, that we’re also out there helping the community and trying to assist the community and trying to contribute to the community.”