EAST RUTHERFORD — Since he was 4 years old, Dennis Rivelli knew he wanted a career in law enforcement.
"I saw a car go by with lights flashing, and I asked my dad about it. He said it's a police car. I said 'I want to drive it.' As I got older, I wanted to be a cop," said Rivelli.
The 50-year old veteran with the East Rutherford Police Department will be sworn in as the 34-member agency's chief on July 1, replacing retiring Chief Larry Minda. With 28 years of experience with the ERPD, Rivelli moved up the ranks from a 22-year-old officer in 1988 to captain in 2009.
"When I started this job, I wanted to go as far as I could, so this is the pinnacle," Rivelli said.
Although law enforcement evolves, key components remain constant. "Building a relationship with the public is the most important part of police work," Rivelli said, adding that growing into his leadership role means being a good listener and interacting with a variety of people and personalities.
Rivelli's towering, stocky frame is a contrast to his soft-spoken, calm demeanor, and a complement to Minda's energetic animated manner. Whether it's a Click-It or Ticket patrol that Rivelli is preparing to supervise or a post-internship celebration at Becton Regional High School where Minda is headed, both men are steeped into East Rutherford.