Georgetown Police Cadet aims to make her mom proud

GEORGETOWN — Jessica Rivera believes she owes her mom a lifelong debt.

So, the 22-year-old Georgetown resident, whose parents have native roots in Mexico and Guatemala, plans to make her mother super proud.

Jessica Rivera, a 2014 Sussex Central graduate, is a Cadet with the Georgetown Police Department.

With a degree in criminal justice from Delaware Technical Community College and another in the works through Wilmington University, her career plans are to pursue a career in victims’ services.

Eventually, she would like to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

For now, she is quite content juggling college studies with a job in retail and her job as a Cadet with the Georgetown Police Department.

“It’s a good feeling. It’s like that feeling that your mom did not waste her time coming here and going through all of this paperwork and through all of hard work. There are many people out there who have parents who came here and risked their lives and left everything behind to give them a better education, but they don’t take advantage of it,” said Jessica. “I think that is my duty and I owe it to my mom.”

Cadets on patrol wear bullet-proof vests. They do not have arrest power and are not armed, other than mace . More so, they serve as the eyes and ears of the community in building positive relationships with residents and businesses.

Raised in Georgetown, Jessica graduated from Sussex Central High School in 2014. One of her Class of 2014 classmates, Beatrice Perez-Vasquez is her best-friend cohort in the Cadet program. They often walk the streets of Georgetown together, work out at the gym together and are for the most part inseparable. Some people they meet on patrol think they are sisters.

Georgetown Police Department Cadets Jessica Rivera and Beatrice Vasquez on the beat at  Festival Hispano.

“We work together. It’s not just in the police department. We work together outside, helping each other with school, homework, proof-reading each other’s papers,” said Jessica. “We’re each other’s backbone.”

This week’s People to Meet spotlight: Jessica Rivera.

Where were you born?

“I was born in Lewes at Beebe. I’m a Beebe girl. I think that is why I love the beach. I always tell my mom I think I am a mermaid.”

Family?

“I have family all over the country. I live my mom and with my stepdad. My dad is not in the picture. My mom was born in Mexico. She was taken when she was like 2 or 3 years old to Guatemala. She was raised there then came back to Mexico when she was 14. And from there, she came here, My stepdad is from Guatemala. I have two sisters and a younger brother. He just entered second grade.”

What were you involved in at Sussex Central?

“I did track and field. I was long distance but a did a little bit of everything: long distance, sprinting, little bit of hurdles and then I did the shot put. From my freshman year through my senior I did dance; dance class. We would perform for pep rallies at school …”

Future aspirations?

“As a future career, I think I look at myself in victims’ services. Not only for children but also for a lot of people that are coming here that are Spanish. They are afraid to speak up if it’s domestic violence, especially women. They don’t have a voice; the reason being is because they don’t speak English. I’d like to help them and especially children, because they are very vulnerable.”

“My long-term goal I want to go federal with the FBI department. I am not going to say it is a long-term goal, but it is something I want to accomplish, too.”

What’s the coolest thing about being a Cadet?

“I think the coolest thing about being a Cadet is having children run up to you. That for me is the coolest thing ever. They come up to you and they start telling you, ‘I want to be like you.’ They aspire to be somebody, especially little girls. You do not see a lot of female officers out there. They obviously want to be someone like us. They want to help out the community. We advise them. I think that is the coolest thing. And the other part is having my little brother; my little brother is proud to say that I work for the Georgetown Police Department.”

How did you hook up with the Georgetown Police Department?

“The fall the year before I was going to graduate, we had this English course where we had to do a research paper on the field of your major. One of the requisites for your paper is you had to interview somebody within the field of study that you want to go for. My field of study was the criminal justice field. I had to interview somebody within the criminal investigations department. At that time is was Lt. (Larry) Grose. One my teachers … he told me that he knew somebody.”

How did the interview go?

“I come in, it was early morning. I was so scared because I had never been in a police department besides in the lobby. Not in the back part or in the conference room. I was so scared. I was really nervous. I had never been arrested. But I had my questions laid out, my folder, my paper, my pen, I came professional. We got my interview over and then we just started talking about the career field that I was going for, how long I had until I graduated.”

Then came a job offer?

“Like next day after that … I get an email … that the lieutenant for the Georgetown Police Department needs to speak to you. I am like, ‘Am I in trouble? What did I do?’ I was told that Georgetown Police Department wants to offer me a job!”

“I came in and filled my application. They described what the job was going to be and how Chief (R.L.) Hughes, how he was the new chief and wanted to implement the new program. It was part-time, 20 hours. And I signed my contract. I signed my life away.”

Jessica Rivera stops traffic for the parade honoring the Little League Senior Softball World Series championship team from Georgetown.

Any second thoughts?

“It’s a funny story. When I signed the application, I went home and I was happy. But at the same time, I was scared, because I am going to be surrounded by officers who have guns and they are bigger than me, twice my size. I remember when we had to come in for the fitting for shirts, pants, bullet-proof vests and everything. I went into the bathroom and I looked at myself and said, ‘This is not for me. This is not the job for me. I am going to quit.’ I came out from the bathroom determined that I had decided I was going to quit. And I go to Lt. Grose’s office and he tells me that the chief is really glad that he hired the new cadets. That he is going to see improvement and how people were already talking about seeing us in the community. And that just brought me down. So here I am working. I’ve been here. I started in the summer 2015. Since then I have been working with the police department. I eventually did training classes, traffic control, self-defense … just like basic training.”

Your other employment?

“It’s the best of both worlds I can say. It’s police work over here but then it’s sales associate at your local beach department store, Rehoboth Sensations. But this is my main priority. For me it’s a hobby coming here. I even come here on the days off. I sit here and joke around with the guys. My other job I can say, ‘Yeah it’s my job.’ But there are days where it drags and I just want to get out. But when I come here, it’s excitement. I love this job. I am thankful they came to my door. Who comes to your door and offers you a job? It’s fun coming through that door. You learn different stuff every single day. They bring your day up. That’s what family does.”

What do you do in your free time?

“I actually do spend a lot of time with my mom. My mom and my sisters I take them out to breakfast. I take them shopping, I try to take them to the beach, for a little bit of fun. The arcade and movies and have a little bit of fun. Family time.”

Is local police work in your future?

“I want to work with victims’ services, escalating to FBI, and then coming back to my home state and serving for my hometown. I know the ins and outs. I know the people.”

You view Georgetown police as family?

“I know the Georgetown PD very well. The officers here are like my brothers. Katie Quillen, she is a female police office and I see her as my sister. We have each other’s back, whether it is in work or out of work. Having Chief Hughes here with me since day one since I got hired … it has been pretty good. He is like the father I never had. Chief and all of these other guys here always give me fatherly advice. They guide me in the right direction. They give me their opinions. They tell me what is right and what’s wrong. What I should I be doing and what I shouldn’t be doing which is something I always wanted to hear.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.