Project Dedication & Naming

Celestino Rivera

Celestino Rivera

Celestino “Cel” Rivera, was born on December 4, 1949 in Lorain, Ohio to Angelita and Celestino Rivera Sr. He overcame so much in his life at an early age. As one of eight children, his mother passed away when he was only 5 years old. He spent six years at the Parmadale Orphanage. Despite these challenges, he became such an honorable, respectable, legendary man who devoted his life to serving his county and community.

He enlisted with the United States Army at the age of 17, serving his country in the Vietnam War at the rank of Sergeant. Cel was awarded the Bronze Star, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal. He was proud of his military service and proud to be a veteran.

In 1971 he began his 49-year career with the Lorain Police Department as a Patrolman. In 1977 he was promoted to Sergeant, to Lieutenant in 1981, Captain in 1983, and to Police Chief in 1994. During his career he was assigned to Patrol, Traffic, Detectives, Narcotics, SWAT, and Special Operations as both an officer and supervisor. From 1983 through 1989 he served as Commander of Patrol Operations, from 1990 until 1994, served as Commander of the Criminal Investigations Bureau, and in 1994 was appointed to Chief of Police. He retired from the Lorain Police Department in 2019. He was the former President of the Fraternal Order of Police and was the recipient of the Policeman of the Year Award. His rank made no difference to him, he was a Cop’s-cop and he deeply cared for his fellow officers and the city of Lorain. He believed in the people of Lorain and the city’s potential for greatness.

He had a love of reading and learning and received his GED and High School Diploma from Lorain High School, an associate degree in Police Science from Lorain County Community College, and a Bachelor of Science Degree from Heidelberg College. He was also a graduate of Southern Police Institute, School of Justice Administration at the University of Kentucky.

Community Service

Cel’s devotion to the city of Lorain far exceeded his service with the police department. He was a true community leader and an advocate for social justice issues. He was:

  • A graduate of Leadership Lorain County
  • Former Vice President & Advocacy Chairman for CHIP (Hispanic Coalition for Hispanic Issues and Progress)
  • Founder/Former Co-Chairman of the Lorain County Domestic Violence Task Force
  • Board Vice-President of Genesis House Shelter for Battered Women
  • Member of International, Ohio and Lorain County Associations of Chiefs of Police
  • Former Board Member for Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County
  • Former Board Member for Center for Children and Youth Services
  • Former Board Member of El Centro de Servicios Sociales
  • Founding Member and Co-Chairman of the Hispanic Fund
  • Founder and President of Do the Right Thing Program
  • LCCC Adjunct Instructor
  • Several Advisory Boards and Levy Treasurer
  • Chairman of Lorain Community Forum on Violence
  • Co- Chairman of Summit-Lorain Project: Law Enforcement Response to those with limited English proficiency (Nationally Distributed by DOJ)
  • Founding Board Member of South Lorain Lincoln Community Center
  • Initiated the Law Enforcement Narcan Program in Ohio
  • Immigration Reform Activist (volunteering in El Salvador and the El Paso/Juarez Border)
  • Founder and Executive Director of Courage & Dignity, LLC (Non-profit)

Awards and Accolades

Cel was the recipient of many recognitions including:

  • Hispanic of the Year in both Lorain and Cleveland
  • Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan
  • Martin Luther King Social Sensitivity Award from Lorain Community Action Agency
  • Lorain NAACP Community Peace Award
  • Ohio Civil Rights Commission Special Recognition Award
  • William French Smith Award from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
  • Cleveland Jobs with Justice: Louis Stokes Award for Work with Undocumented Persons
  • Grand Marshall of the Cleveland Puerto Rican Day Parade
  • Ohio Distinguished Law Enforcement Training Award from Ohio Governor DeWine
  • Bishop A.J. Quinn Justice Award from Catholic Action Commission
  • Lorain Police SWAT Team: Founder’s Award (35th. Anniversary, the Nord Mental Health Center Key to Hope Award
  • Lorain County AFL-CIO- Union Labor Support Award
  • Men of Lorain County Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Downtown Growth Association Community Service Award


OHVM c/o El Centro
2800 Pearl Avenue
Lorain, OH 44055​