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Robinson: Riverside County's 1st Black Chief Deputy

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By Linnie Frank Bailey –

Boris Robinson, Chief Deputy with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, credits “great mentors” with getting him to where he is today. This includes a strong father who taught him the value of hard work, and a coach with the Police Athletic League in New York, who taught him an appreciation for the military and law enforcement.

Boris Robinson

Growing up Chief Deputy Robinson learned lessons that today he passes on to his own children and youth he comes in contact with. “I tell kids to seek wise counsel,” says Robinson.


Born and raised in Queens, New York, Robinson recalls a strong family unit headed by his father. “I was raised old school,” he says. “My dad made it clear, my alternatives were school, military, or a job. I’ve worked since I was 14 years old!”

Robinson was a promising saxophone player in high school and played in several R&B bands; He also spent a lot of time playing basketball with the Police Athletic League in Queens. It was there that he met Officer Smith, or “Smitty’ as the kids called him. Robinson recalls, “Officer Smith was a Community Relations Cop and a great guy. He taught me the importance of finding something to be good at. It was around this time I started getting interested in law enforcement.”

After joining the Air Force in 1979, Robinson traveled the world. While stationed at March Air Force Base he met his future wife Felicia and decided to settle in the Inland area. After leaving the Air Force he joined the Riverside County Health Department, but his wife kept reminding him of his desire to enter law enforcement. Finally, in 1987 he joined the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Chief Deputy Robinson held a variety of assignments within the Sheriff’s Department as he rose through the ranks. He worked throughout the county, including Lake Elsinore, Temecula, Jurupa, Perris, Banning, and Moreno Valley.

He was given promotions and increasing responsibilities in areas such as: community relations, gang prevention, and drug enforcement. His duties have also included training teachers and parents on gang prevention. As a Captain he led the Internal Affairs and Administrative Unit.

In 2003, Robinson was selected to attend the F.B.I Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He credits his training and education with broadening his perspective.

One of his most treasured accomplishments was completing his Master’s Degree in 2007. “I won’t lie, it was hard.” he relates. “My kids would find me awake in the middle of the night at the kitchen table studying.

However…I can’t tell you how good it felt to walk across the stage and receive that diploma!”

Robinson was appointed Chief Deputy in July of this year and currently runs a division that oversees Court services in the County. He is happy with the support he has received from within the Department over the years.

“I’ve had great mentors here also,” he says. “I encourage people to be part of the solution if they want to see change. Law enforcement is a good career choice. It gives you an opportunity to serve.”

When not working Robinson is busy with his family, which includes his wife of 26 years, Felicia, and their children—three teenagers and a 21-year-olddaughter who is in the Navy.

“All of my kids are involved in sports and/or music, just like I was!” he says proudly.

“They keep me pretty busy.”

Robinson is also on the board of the Alternative for Domestic Violence organization, saying, “Within the Department we are encouraged to give back to the community and this is an organization important to me because I have seen the results of domestic violence.”

He also has a message for youth and parents: “Our kids need to know that a single incident, a single unwise choice, can cast a negative shadow over their lives for years to come. I tell them to work hard because nothing is given to you in life.”

These are all life-long lessons that Boris Robinson has put to good use over the years in his service to the residents of Riverside County.

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