Retiring Riverside Police Chief Rick Oliver has many moments that stick out in his prestigious career, and each one of them has made him appreciative of a long run as a police officer and community servant.
Now, however, Oliver is ready to take a step back, enjoy time with his children and grandchildren and let some new faces emerge from the Riverside Police Department. Oliver is set to retire in August, but will be an integral part of the selection process for his replacement.
“It has been a great career and I have enjoyed it,” Oliver said. “ It has been a pleasure to serve the citizens of Riverside and St. Clair County. The citizens are part of my family. It’s time for some young guys to step up.”
Oliver has a long track record of protecting and serving, dating all the way back to 1990. It was in 1990 when he got his first job as a Birmingham police officer. After three years there, he joined Riverside’s police department on patrol for a four-year stint before joining the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office patrol as a deputy sheriff. In 1998, he joined the 30th Judicial Drug Task Force and, five years later, became a patrol sergeant. It was also in 2003 that he became a coordinator for Project Lifesaver helping those with special needs and diseases. In 2005, he started back up working narcotics investigations before becoming the Police Chief of Riverside in 2008.
Thirteen years later, Oliver looks back at his career in hopes that he made an impact on the lives of the residents.
“While I was working narcotics, I hope I made a difference in the lives of a few people. I hope I helped them get their lives back on track,” Oliver said. “I want to be remembered as being fair, as square away on my cases. I want judges to remember my cases as being solid.”
While many of his memories indicate an illustrious career filled with key moments of action, Oliver said there is one case that is the “icing on the cake” and his most-cherished memory from his time in police work.
The incident stems from Valentines Day in 2018 when Oliver was called out to the railroad tracks by three railroad workers who identified a suspicious vehicle. Inside the vehicle was a four-year-old girl who had been abducted by the man driving the car, who was passed out in the driver’s seat at the time.
Oliver was successfully able to get the girl out of the car and away from the man, with the man fleeing the scene before being caught on the Alabama-Mississippi border. While the man was eventually brought to justice, what Oliver truly cared about was reuniting the little girl with her family in South Carolina. He was able to do so on the same day-Valentine’s Day.
“It is the best Valentine’s Day gift I have ever received, with God putting me in the right place to make a difference,” Oliver said. “It is the highlight of my whole career. She is a beautiful girl who is doing well.”
Oliver said he and others have gone up to South Carolina to visit her and her family. She has also made trips to Riverside to visit Oliver. It is important for him to keep in touch with her.
While he reflects back at cherished moments such as what he has with saving the abducted child, Oliver is also appreciative of those who have helped him along the way. This includes his fellow officers, fellow supervisors, the mayor of Riverside, the city council, the residents of Riverside and, most notably, his family.
“I appreciate my family and I appreciate their sacrifices as well. They have made unreal sacrifices for me and my job,” Oliver said.
The City of Riverside has since appointed a search committee to replace Oliver. The committee is comprised of the mayor, Chief Oliver, Councilman Todd Pierce and City Clerk Candace Smith.
The committee will narrow down the candidates to two or three individuals before having them interview before the city council in a public meeting.