From Anteater to Policeman

After graduation, some graduates go on to work in law offices, accounting firms and film studios. Some head off to graduate school to get their Masters in Education, Business, Social Work, among other disciplines. But for some Anteaters, they choose to stay at UC Irvine, for one reason or another.

The UCI Police Department takes pride in hiring UC Irvine graduates. Out of 30 officers, seven of them are former Anteaters.

The affinity of the police department to hire one of UCI’s own stems from knowing that those officers truly care about the community.

“Becoming a police officer in the community in which you were born and raised I think is very important,” Lieutenant Joe Reiss said.

The UCI pride that permeates throughout the campus is instilled in these alumni, and when they have lived here for four years, these officers feel a desire to protect the campus that they love. This is why the department is so excited to see UCI’s very own return.

“There are so many kids that wear UCI t-shirts and are excited about this school and are proud of it, and we want that to carry over into the police department,” Reiss said.

Another reason the department appreciates UCI graduates is that they have an understanding of what it’s like to be a student. Being a mentor is an important job that comes with being a cop. When UCI students unfortunately get into trouble, these officers can guide them with their own knowledge and experiences while being in school.

Officer Paul Riscalla was the most recent UCI graduate to be sworn in. Ever since he was young, Riscalla has been interested in becoming a police officer.

As a business economics major with a minor in management, one might not guess that he wanted to pursue criminal justice. However, he believed that having a background in other majors might be useful later on, even though his plan was to enter the police academy after school.

Riscalla was also involved in the Campuswide Honors Program at UCI and liked being at the Student Center where most of the student activities occur.

During spring quarter of his senior year, Riscalla took an intern position at the police department. This internship gave him a glimpse as to what he wanted to pursue after graduation, and he was excited for it. After spring quarter, he worked as a Community Service Officer (CSO) in charge of hiring.

“Every little bit of experience and exposure into law enforcement helps, so just being in that environment definitely helped to become more familiar with stuff in the academy,” Riscalla said.

After college, he worked while also attending the Orange County Sherriff’s Department Reserve Academy.

He graduated first in his class out of 66 other students. Riscalla is the first UCI police officer to graduate as no. 1 in the police academy, and the entire department is incredibly proud to begin working with him.

Not only that, but out of five awards given out during graduation, Riscalla was the recipient of three.

With these impressive accomplishments, Riscalla came right back to UCI to serve the community that he loved.

“I always knew that I wanted to get into law enforcement in somewhere that I had a connection to, and I just kind of got lucky because I know they don’t hire too often here,” Riscalla said.

Being back on campus under a new title definitely feels strange for Riscalla. Now sworn to serve and protect the campus, Riscalla enjoys this role so far and is excited to see how things have changed since he graduated. He is also happy to be working with six other Anteaters, and is waiting for another officer to graduate from the academy whom he knew while at UCI.

“You can definitely tell the officers who went here have a special connection with the school, they know a lot of students, they’re really friendly and you can tell they really care about the campus,” Riscalla said.

Lieutenant Reiss remembers a specific burglary case where Riscalla impressed the department. He was assigned to collect all the crime statistics, but he went above and beyond and used his knowledge of the UCI community to project where the next set of crimes might occur.

“That is the type of thing that is beneficial to working here at the police department,” Reiss said. “You have a good understanding of what happens and then you bring your influences of being on campus to the department, and that is what Paul is able to do for us.”

Due to his success in the academy and also to his commitment to protect the school he once lived in as a student, UCI is proud to accept Officer Riscalla back on campus again as not only a guardian, but a fellow Anteater.