After 22 years of service, Deputy Sheriff Gary Vernon will be moving on to a new adventure with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) as a special agent where he will be investigating thefts and crime.
Riverbank City Manager Jill Anderson and city staff organized a farewell party for Vernon on Friday afternoon at City Hall which included food, beverages, and desserts.
Vernon arrived at City Hall to find himself surrounded by people of the Riverbank community that were there to honor him and thank him for all he has done within the community.
A very humble and touched Vernon received a plaque from Riverbank Police Services Chief Erin Kiely to show appreciation for his many years of service.
“I think most of the people that have driven through Riverbank have seen him on the motorcycle at one time,” stated Kiely. “Some of them might have been unfortunate enough to receive a citation from him but despite all of his contacts, thousands of citations that he has written to help ensure the safety of the public passing through, he has always been well received by the public.”
Prior to receiving the plaque Kiely expressed with gratitude and delight what Vernon means to the community and what a unique individual he is.
“It matters not what the task is, Gary is extremely versatile and capable and he is self-motivated,” said Kiely. “I felt extremely fortunate to have you on our team and I will tell you this; the thing that is unique about Gary is not only is he an outstanding deputy sheriff, he is a spectacular human being.”
Kiely explained that Vernon had generated virtually no complaints and was very productive and busy, most of the time without being asked.
Mayor Richard O’Brien along with Vice Mayor Cal Campbell and councilmember Leanne Jones Cruz presented Vernon with a certificate of their appreciation for his service.
“He is a large part of not only the police force but the community,” stated O’Brien. “He has involved himself in many aspects of community gatherings. He will be missed as a police officer but I am sure within the community he is still going to be very vibrant.”
Vernon was involved with “Every 15 Minutes” at Riverbank High School which happens every other year as well as the annual Shop with a Cop program just before Christmas, authoring traffic grants, and many other events around the community.
“That thing that is unique about Gary is that he is one of those people that is tireless, he constantly volunteers himself for the betterment of those around him and he does that naturally and without being beckoned to do so,” stated Kiely.
The sentiment was the same throughout the room; of gratitude, appreciation, warmth with a side of somberness.
“I am not leaving because this is a bad place to work, it is a great place to work, I love the city but it is time to go,” expressed Vernon of heading to a new job but not a new community. “I am not going anywhere, we live here and my kids go to school here so you will still be seeing me.
Explaining that the opportunity presented itself, Vernon was not looking for another position and said he was originally planning his retirement from Riverbank Police Services a few years down the road.
“This opportunity will allow me to spend more time with my family,” said Vernon. “I am going from 60 to 70 hour weeks to 160 hours a month and no overtime.”
Starting out as a patrol officer with Riverbank, Vernon was then a community resource deputy, a business liaison, and finally a motor deputy.
“I can honestly tell you I lived here as a citizen and the department here is dedicated to this area and the Chief is a great guy and I know you are in capable hands,” added Vernon.
Riverbank Police Services has already opened recruitment for a motor deputy that will drive a motorcycle within the community and have the primary task of traffic enforcement. There has not been any selection made at this point.
“We will get a body to replace him, but there is only one Gary Vernon and that’s all there will ever be,” expressed Kiely. “We are going to miss him no matter what for that reason.”