Gary Cavender was born in Charleston, West Virginia in December 1944. He came to Riverside, California by way of the United States Air Force. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant while assigned to March Air Force Base and was honorably discharged in January 1969. Later that year, Gary was hired as a Deputy Sheriff for the County of Riverside. This was a natural career choice for him as his family in West Virginia included law enforcement officers. His father retired as a Captain from the Charleston Police Department. His two uncles were also police officers. Gary's running joke was that he chose the Sheriff's Department because they paid the best. After 18 months he left the county and was hired by the Riverside Police Department.

Gary was assigned to patrol on the Eastside of Riverside and became a Motor Officer in 1974. Gary worked motors until 1977 when he and his family moved to the State of Georgia. They returned to Riverside in 1979 and Gary resumed his career with the department. He was a mainstay of the graveyard shift and was impassioned for training new officers in the skills of police work. He was promoted to the rank of Detective in January 1992.

During Gary's tenure as a Detective, he was assigned to investigate assaults against children. He pursued his suspects with enthusiastic vigor. One case that still touches the heart of family and friends involved a 9-year-old sexual assault victim. His deeply caring manner allowed her to disclose things to him she felt she could tell no one else. Their lives were forever intertwined.

On July 30, 1993, Gary was on a day off but knew one of his suspects in a child molestation case was very likely to be released from custody if he did not intervene. He went to the Riverside County Courthouse to seek a bail enhancement for the suspect to prevent his release. While walking the steps of the courthouse afterward, Gary suffered a fatal heart attack. Among those who attended his funeral was the 9-year-old victim he so deeply cared for and her family. Gary’s wife, Linda attended the girl’s high school graduation and wedding. Gary was no doubt an instrumental part of her putting her life back together. That legacy will continue for many generations.

Gary was survived by Linda and their two children, Gary and Kelly. Gary followed in the family footsteps and is a Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy.

Riverside Police Department Safe In His Arms Memorial