Denis Riel

Contact Information:


B.S. in administration of justice, Roger Williams University
M.S. in administration of justice, Salve Regina University

Professional Experience:

I retired as detective commander of the Lincoln (R.I.) Police Department in 2004 after 20 years of service. I then returned to full-time military duty as a member of the Rhode Island Air National Guard, where I retired (again) from the U.S. Air Force/R.I. Air National Guard in 2015 as director of staff with the rank of lieutenant colonel after 33 years of active and reserve duty.

During my law enforcement career, I served in numerous positions including patrol officer, patrol sergeant, patrol lieutenant, detective and detective commander. I also served as the department’s training officer, firearms instructor and public information officer, and was the acting deputy chief in 2002.

I have remained professionally active in the law enforcement field since leaving active service. I have been an adjunct professor at Salve Regina since 2006 and currently teach the online version of Cultural Competency for Justice Systems, a course I developed in 2013 and which is now a core course. I am also an adjunct instructor with Roger Williams University's Justice Systems Training and Research Institute. Since 2002, I have developed and presented workshops in the areas of leadership and management, strategic communications, public information, instructor development and organizational development to more than 2,000 New England law enforcement leaders.

I served in the R.I. Air National Guard, both in a traditional reserve capacity (1982-2004) and as a full-time member (2004-2015) until mandatory retirement in 2015. Among many assignments, I was originally an enlisted air surveillance and warning operator (ground radar) until being commissioned a second lieutenant in 1987. I then served various roles as an air battle management officer (ground radar) until 1997 before assuming command of the 143rd Aerial Port Squadron until 2007. I was next assigned as the joint public affairs officer (Army and Air) before being selected as the Air National Guard's director of staff/R.I. National Guard joint deputy chief of staff, my final assignment.

Personal Statement:

In 2018, my wife and I moved to Tampa, Florida, allegedly to retire. Shortly upon arriving, however, I served as an investigator and hearing officer with the Florida Commission on Offender Review for two years, where I provided due process rights to parole violators in Hillsborough and Pasco counties. In 2020, I decided that it's never too late to pursue my dream of teaching in secondary education and obtained an educator's certificate in social sciences (6-12) from the Florida Department of Education. I am currently the director of the Criminal Justice Academy at Fivay High School in Hudson, Florida.

I am a graduate of the U.S. Air Force's Air War College with a post-graduate diploma in strategic studies, the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Information School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's homeland security senior leadership development program.

I am a proud and passionate veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. I am obsessively dedicated to golf and guitars, having developed mild-to-moderate competence in each, as well as ice hockey, a sport I have played for more than 45 years and coached at my hometown high school (Lincoln, R.I.) and Rhode Island College for 25 years.