Person 2 Person: Sheriff Rosie Rivera

Person 2 Person: Sheriff Rosie Rivera (Photo provided by the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office)

(KUTV) Rosie Rivera is the new sheriff for Salt Lake County.

She made history as the first woman and first Latina to hold the position.

Rivera had wanted to be a police officer since she was a little girl.

"I've always wanted to help people. It didn't matter whether it was a person or a pet," she said. "It was the perfect job for me."

Over the 24 years in her career in law enforcement, Rivera rose through the ranks.

Early on in her career, she got a position in the Metro Gang Unit.

"I learned so much with that job," she said. "That really made me understand where I wanted to go with my career. And I always wanted to be in a position where I could mentor young kids."

Rivera also worked as a department spokesperson and public information officer.

"I realized that was an important position because now I could be a good role model, show people that if you think that you can do it and you can see it, then you can be it," Rivera said.

Rivera got married at 14 years old because she was pregnant. She had a baby at 15.

Having a family so young was tough, but she had a lot of help from her parents.

"My mother was always very calm," she said. "My father always told me, 'Never give up.' And that's how I've lived my life. I just don't give up."

As a teen, Rivera worked in the onion fields to earn money.

At 18, she was hired at Hill Air Force Base and worked as an electrician on F16 jets.

"I was in a position where I could actually go to the police academy," she said.

She attended the academy at night while working at Hill Air Force Base during the day.

"Finally, my dream came true," she said.

Now, she is the sheriff for Salt Lake County--the first woman to hold the position.

"I really think it's going to change things," she said of her new job. "Not just for me, but for women all over."

Becoming sheriff wasn't something she planned on.

"I didn't see running for sheriff. You know, I couldn't see myself as a politician," she said. "A door opened and I knew I had to go and try for it."

Rivera was sworn into office earlier this year.

"You can't even describe it. It was probably one of the best days for me," she said.

Not only did she make history as a woman, but as a Latina.

"I did it and now I know others are going to have that opportunity," she said of the milestone.

Shauna Lake asked Sheriff Rivera what she would like to people to say about her when she leaves office.

"I would like them to say, 'Rosie Rivera was a good role model, a good leader, and she was able to inspire others to be the best they can be,'" she said.

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