SUFFOLK, Va. - A police processional guided him home on Tuesday. Sgt. Joe Rivera's End of Watch was May 31.
"He was a person that loved service, [a] tremendous asset to this department. He was a military vet and unforgettable kind of guy," said Suffolk Interim Police Chief Alfred Chandler.
The 59-year-old was on the Suffolk Police force for more than 13 years. He died of a hard-fought battle with COVID-19, according to an online fundraiser. He was diagnosed on April 21 and spent time on a ventilator in critical condition.
"A person like Sgt. Rivera - you don't remember how he died; you remember how he lived," said Chandler. "He lived with excitement and fun and joy. That is what we want to remember."
Rivera was a dedicated public servant who was an operate on the Suffolk SWAT team, a member of the Honor Guard and was also on the Neighborhood Enforcement Team.
"Every practice, he brought 100%. He was always cheering on everyone else" said Chandler.
Chandler says Rivera was a family man and a lover of all animals.
While there is a somber tone within the 200 officers on the force, Chandler says Rivera is forever in the hearts and the minds of his fellow public servants.
"Our mission is law enforcement excellence through partnership with community and he was laser focused on that. And in his memory, we will continue as an agency to be laser focused on that," said Chandler.