On September 29, 1922, the day on which 26 qualified voters met to incorporate the young community, Law Enforcement in the Town of Riviera began and elected the town's first marshal, B.D. Kerr. Nearly one year later, the Town was re-incorporated under a state charter and upon the holding of a special election, Mr. Kerr was elected Mayor and J.B. Stewart was elected Marshall and tax collector. During the first 20 years, the Town of Riviera remained very sparsely populated with fewer than 2,000, residents and continued to be policed by a Town Marshal.
During the time of the Second World War, the Town's population increased to over 4,000, or an increase of over 100 percent. In the early 1940's, Riviera incorporated the larger portion of south central Singer Island and changed the name of the town to Riviera Beach. In 1959, the Town officially became the City of Riviera Beach and during this era, the City built a new police headquarters and provided expanding police protection for over 13,000 residents. By 1967, the Police Department's budget had grown to $380,174 and had a force of 43 employees.
The 1960's and 1970's saw the first major introduction of narcotics into the social norms of our youth. During this period, there were several civil and social changes taking place in this country. The nation was in the midst of an unpopular war. The black community, which had grown from 23 percent of the City's population in 1950 to 52.9 percent in 1970, was seeking a larger involvement in the affairs of their local government. The thrust of the black community to experience the full flexibility of citizenship in the face of the established social structures created greater demands on the police service to maintain order. During this same period, the electorates of the State of Florida voted for Article V of the State Constitution, which abolished the municipal courts. The mid-1980's saw the most devastating introduction of a highly stimulating drug made from a base of the old "high society" drug, cocaine.
Directed crime prevention efforts were introduced by the Riviera Beach Police Department in the mid 1970's, Officers met with citizens and community groups and discussed avenues of deterring crime. Organized Crime Prevention became nationally structured by 1975. About this same time, the Riviera Beach Police Department began organizing neighborhood Crime Watch groups and conducting security service surveys for residents, condominiums and businesses. By the 1980's, Crime Prevention took a positive turn in not only making neighborhoods safe, but also introducing drug education, family and community intervention. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, law enforcement came full circle by putting police officers back into the community to stimulate a police-citizen cohesiveness that enhanced citizen and property security.
The staffing of the Police Department went from 64 officers in 1977 to 100 officers in 1990. The budgeted number of officers was then lowered to 90 officers in 1992. The maximum numbers of officers budgeted for the department was 103 in 2002.
The Riviera Beach Police Department, located in the central coastal area of Palm Beach County, with a service population of over 30,000 year-round residents, is one of the most challenging and diverse police agencies in Palm Beach County. The Department provides unlimited professional and personal growth for law enforcement officers, providing police services that include law enforcement, crime prevention, code enforcement and community-based policing for all its residents. The Riviera Beach Police Department meets its challenges with alacrity. The Department continues to work in partnership with small and medium businesses to improve commercial and industrial development.
The Department is comprised of full and part-time enforcement members and full-time police officers. Offering positions and assignments in road patrols, investigations, special operations, crime prevention, victim witness services, communications, community involvement and other community-based programs, those include neighborhood crime watch programs.