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Longtime NHP sergeant bids farewell

Since 1995, Nevada Highway Patrol’s Carlos Rivera has logged countless hours patrolling the highways in Nye County.

Rivera, now a sergeant, has decided to retire from the position he has held for the past 25 years.

When asked why he decided to retire, Rivera, the father of two boys, Carlos Jr., 23, Marcos, 16, simply said “it was the right time.”

He and his wife Yvette, who is a Nye County School District educator, have been married for 24 years.

“I am 51 years old, and so I have my 25 years in,” he said. “I had been contemplating this probably for the last year and a half to two years, and it just felt like it was the right time to go. This was something that was not my own decision. I consulted with my wife and kids, and we felt it was probably the best time to go. I knew I was going to go sometime in 2020.”

In the beginning

Rivera, born in Corpus Christi, Texas earned an Associate’s Degree back in 1990 from Del Mar Community College, and later a Bachelor’s Degree in criminal justice from Corpus Christi State University in 1992.

At one point in his life, Rivera was even an amateur boxer.

“Early in my college years, I boxed for the Corpus Christi Police Association,” he recalled. “I also did four years of Golden Gloves boxing. I was able to get a scholarship back in 1988 for $500 from the Corpus Christi Jaycees to compete in Golden Gloves. That $500 paid for my first semester of college. Times have certainly changed with the way college tuitions have risen.”

Regarding his decision to pursue a career in law enforcement, Rivera, who had the option of working in Arizona or New Mexico, eventually settled on the Silver State.

“Nevada just caught my eye, and I like the uniforms that they had back then,” he said. “It was a French blue uniform and I thought it was very professional looking. I never looked into the pay or the benefits, because it was all about just wearing the uniform. I think it runs in the family because I have a brother with the Texas Department of Public Safety, and he has been in law enforcement for over 30 years.”

Tragic scenes

Along the way during his career, Rivera spoke about the misfortune to have witnessed the aftermath of traffic accidents on area roadways, which he described as one of the most difficult aspects of his job.

“One of the most tragic things I think is to see a family torn up, especially during the holiday season, because every holiday season brings back some very bad memories, every time that holiday comes around,” he said. “You look at these accidents and crashes, and they are so preventable. I think anybody in law enforcement who has kids will tell you that when you respond to calls where children are involved, and are affected, I think the most difficult thing for us is crashes where innocent kids are hurt or killed on the side of the road because of an accident that could have been prevented. I think that’s the most heartbreaking aspect about this job.”

Perks of the job

On the other hand, Rivera also spoke about the rewards that stem from a career in law enforcement.

“I think it’s when we actually go out there and help the motoring public and citizens in their time of need,” he said. “I know a lot of times people are not happy to see us behind them in their rear-view mirror when they get stopped, but I have had some people come up to and thank me for slowing them down because they were not paying attention. When you change somebody’s tire on the side of the road, and they send you a letter or thank you card, it’s a great feeling. It’s a part of our job, even though we are not required to do that. If we are able to do it, and are capable of doing it, then we should be able to do that kind of job for them. It is a public service, so I think that is a great aspect and that is what attracts people to the highway patrol.”

Uniformed professionalism

As such, Rivera gave high praise to his fellow colleagues wearing the NHP uniform.

“Historically, I think throughout the country, regarding highway patrol and state troopers, I find them to be the most professional people in law enforcement,” he said. “It’s not that the other agencies are not, I just think that I like the way the highway patrol carries themselves, and I like the representation that they provide, and that’s why I chose this profession.”

Sage advice

Additionally, Rivera administered some recommendations for those who are interested in a career in law enforcement.

“I would say there has to be a good balance between knowing your limitations and knowing how to go out there and do your job, where you rely on your training and your experience,” he said. “It’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. You should also make sure to take time outside of work to relax and decompress outside of work. You also have to understand that you’re not going to fix everything. Just talking to people, listening to them and understanding them, is also good advice.”

During two and a half decades with the NHP, Rivera complimented other area first responders he’s worked alongside.

“I have worked with so many business owners here who are so great, not to mention working with the sheriff’s office and Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services, as well as our local schools,” he said. “We also work with the courts and the district attorney’s office, so it’s a joint effort.”

Rivera also spoke about the guidance he gained from working with former NHP Chief Dennis Osborne.

“He was our chief from January 2014 until July 2017, and even though we only worked together for about four or five years when I first came out here, he taught me some very important and vital things. He told me we can agree to disagree on issues, and he also introduced what we call the ‘big five’ for law enforcement, which is speed, hazard violations, driving under the influence, distracted driving, child restraints and seat belts. Those things are very vital for our motoring public out there. He was one of the first troopers I met here who happened to work his way up the ranks to become our chief.”

Community support

Looking back on his career, Rivera became slightly emotional when it came to reflecting upon the many individuals and families that he’s met over the years.

“I really want to thank the community, because when I came out here in 1995 and didn’t know anyone, so it was an adventure,” he said. “Not knowing anyone at all, and not having any family with me was very hard. Many people in the community provide very nice gestures for law enforcement. They’ll even see us in a parking lot and just come up and say thank you for a job well done. That right there is a big motivational factor for us to go out there and do our job.”

Additionally, Rivera gave a final thanks to his fellow employees.

“This has been a joy and a dream job and everybody comes into this job for different reasons,” he said. “Just recently the NHP lost Sergeant Ben Jenkins back in March and my heart goes out to him and his family. I did not know Ben, but I heard a lot of wonderful things about him. I am very fortunate to be able to exit this career healthy and on my terms. My heart goes out to the men and women throughout our country that are not able to exit on their own terms.”

Family ties

Rivera also reflected on how strong family support played a role during his career.

He is one of four boys raised by his parents, Pete and Emma Rivera, who recently celebrated their 62nd anniversary.

His oldest brother died in a one-vehicle car accident back in 1994.

Rivera’s father-in-law, Uvaldo Hinojosa, passed away in February 2019, leaving behind his wife, Rivera’s mother-in-law, Olga Hinojosa.

“I want to thank my family back home in Texas,” he said. “I am very fortunate to still have my parents. I just think that it is time to move on and face new challenges as they come in. I also think my wife has a list of chores for me to do as well and I’m good with that. I enjoy doing that kind of stuff around the house. My final working day is September 4th and my actual retirement day is September 5th.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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