VERO BEACH – Known as “the face” of the Vero Beach Police Department, a high-profile officer’s 34-year law enforcement career was celebrated in a City Hall send-off Friday.
The department chief, fellow officers, city, county and law enforcement officials from surrounding agencies plus family and friends all spoke at the retirement ceremony of Master Police Officer Darrell Rivers, 52.
Chief David Currey outlined Rivers’ career starting at age 17 on Halloween night 1988, as a dispatcher.
Rivers began in May 1989 as a police officer and entered the patrol division alongside Currey. He joined its Special Investigation Unit in 1994, Currey said.
“He did an outstanding job in SIU, without question,” said Currey.
In May 2003 Rivers was promoted to corporal, and finally in June 2019 he became a Master Police Officer and was made public information officer.
“Darrell’s all about community, always has been,” said Currey. “You all know it was a home run.”
Throughout his three decades policing, Rivers received several awards and departmental acknowledgments.
Currey spoke of a majority of the awards starting with two lifesaving awards from the early 90s.
“This is somebody that receives accolades and awards early, often, and even towards the end of his career,” he said. “He went through the finish line”
Rivers helped resuscitate a woman in March 1991 at an apartment complex, Currey said, and in 1992 he saved a man from a near drowning when he was found floating face down 20 yards out in the ocean at South Beach Park.
In 2005, he was among the officers to be acknowledged for helping 13 residents stranded at Fairlane Harbor mobile home park during flooding from Hurricane Frances, Currey said.
Just before his role as public information officer, in April 2019 he performed CPR on a lifeless 2-year-old girl who Rivers said is “still alive and well” today.
Looking back on his career, Rivers said saving the toddler was among his most memorable moments.
“That was a day I’ll never forget,” said Rivers. “You know, see a mother clutching a baby just lifeless and there’s people standing around and no one’s helping them and that just broke my heart even more.”
Throughout his various assignments at the department, Rivers said when he thinks back on being a policer officer, what comes first to mind is his 12 years working in SIU and what he called his “drug career.”
“I went all over the state of Florida putting bad guys in prison,” he said, adding he also worked with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Multi Agency Enforcement or MACE unit.
Along with his awards, Currey praised Rivers’ role strengthening the department’s diversity efforts.
“Darrell has done just that for us,” he said. “He has helped the organization include and involve people from different backgrounds (and) stretched our boundaries and engaged our community wherever he could.”
In retirement, Rivers said he plans more trips to Long Point Park, an island in the Indian River Lagoon near Sebastian Inlet, which he said is “one of my favorite places in the whole wide world to go camping and fishing.”
He said he plans to continue working, although he said he didn’t want to divulge what that work is just yet.
“I got to get hired first,” he said.
To end the event, Rivers had his final, “end of shift” call over the radio to dispatchers saying, “I love you. 10-7.”
A message read back over the radio announced his last official communication over the dispatch system at 1:43 p.m. and said, “…It is with great honor and privilege to bid you farewell in your final 10-7. We thank you for the 34 years you gave us … you sacrificed your time and your family all in the name of duty … We wish you the best and hope to see you more at Long Point.”
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