Capt. Joseph Borja is the new head of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Hemet Station. Borja assumed the role on Feb. 4, and succeeds new Deputy Chief Lyndon “Ray” Wood.
Borja joined the Sheriff’s Department nearly 28 years ago, in April 1988. He has progressed through the ranks and served in many positions during his career. From conversations and interviews, it is clear he learned much from each step on his career ladder.
For example, from his time with the sheriff’s Public Information Office, one barely has to ask a question before he can relate his extensive career in chronological sequence.
Borja is clearly a problem solver; he’s analytical and persistent. These characteristics were important during his multiple assignments with the Homicide Division.
Being an administrator rather than a field investigator is different, Borja confirmed. But the progression of his various assignments and duties has gradually transferred him to this position.
“Hemet Station is unique because of the various different communities, from the mountains to the valleys,” he related. “And they all have different needs.”
Despite recent staff additions, Hemet still does not have enough deputies to be everywhere. The nature of the crime sets the priority of the response, Borja confirmed, and added, “Every victim is important” — a lesson he learned first hand.
While he plans no immediate changes at the station, Borja’s goal is “to empower the staff to get better.”
The crime analyst at Hemet has been very important to the staffing distribution, he said. “It’s like a force multiplier and helps the deputies.”
Other assignments in Borja’s progression include time at the Robert Presley Detention Center and patrol duties at the Banning, Southwest and Perris stations. By 1999, he was promoted to investigator and, on a stint in Palm Desert, he started his first tour with the Central Homicide Unit.
Within five years he was a sergeant and had assignments at the Jurupa Valley Station, Special Enforcement Bureau, Court Services Bureau and Media Information Bureau, as well as a second round at Central Homicide and again after his promotion to lieutenant in 2012.
“It’s a great learning experience,” he said. Initially, CHU investigated all deaths in the county and officer-involved shootings. “That was too much. We had to narrow the focus to officer-involved cases, in-custody deaths and homicides. I enjoy solving problems. I’ve found that normally, stressful situations are not so stressful for me.”
Borja is a native Midwesterner. He grew up in Indiana and joined the Marine Corps directly after high school. His military experience introduced him to warmer climates.
“In the Marines, I married my high-school sweetheart, Charlene,” he said proudly. “After the Marines, Indiana was too cold and we headed west.” In a year, he had an offer from the county Sheriff’s Department and has been here since. His sons are grown and both moved to Arizona.
Borja’s Bachelor of Science degree is from Southern Illinois University, and he will complete his master’s degree in management at University of Redlands this year.