Meet the officer: OPD’s Jason Gavern

Officer Jason Gavern was born in April 1977, in Harrisonburg, Va., but grew up in Scranton, Pa. During the summers when not in school, he stayed busy with working and going on vacations.

“My father owns a tree-cutting company, so I worked mostly but went on lots of family vacations,” including a lot of cruises, he said. “We must’ve gone to Bermuda at least 10 times. My parents worked really hard for us to have a good life.”

Officer Gavern was very active in sports as a youth. “I played football, baseball and basketball, I was never inside and was always outdoors doing something.” He has been a resident of Okeechobee for six months since he moved from Kissimmee, which he had called home since 2006.

Officer Gavern graduated in 1995 from North Pocono High School in Moscow, Pa. His favorite subject was United States history. As he became older, the time spent playing sports transitioned to work. “When I was 12 years old, I started to work for my dad, which was my first job. I ended up buying my first car at 16 and my own house at 18,” he said. Officer Gavern — while still in his teens — had accomplished what takes others years into their adult lives to attain.

His favorite aspect about attending school was being able to socialize with his friends.

While in high school, Officer Gavern’s interest in joining the military was piqued when a recruiter came to visit and speak to the students of his class. He enlisted to serve for a period of eight years in the United States Army Reserves in Pennsylvania, with a primary military occupational specialty — which identifies a specific job — as a cavalry scout. He spent time stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky, completed his contract with the rank of Specialist (E-4) and said the most difficult aspect of his time spent in the military was “cold weather training.”

Officer Gavern continued his education when he enrolled at Lackawanna College in Scranton in 1997. He recently graduated in 2017 with his associate’s degree in criminal justice — and, as he laughingly stated, “Yes, it took me that long!” He said his most memorable moment of his time spent in college was “graduating!” Unlike most college students, Officer Gavern attended college after he already had graduated from the police academy.

Prior to his time in law enforcement, Officer Gavern also delivered pizzas for Little Caesars. When asked why he chose the profession of law enforcement, Officer Gavern said, “Public safety is in my family,” noting he is one of at least 10 family relatives who are either firefighters or law enforcement officers. He has almost eight years working on the streets, with seven of them in Scranton and less than one as a new addition to OPD. When asked how his career has created value in his life, Officer Gavern responded: “I love people and I love to help them. Law enforcement provides me with a good and steady platform to accomplish that.” Officer Gavern credited his retired firefighter grandfather, Louis Gavern, as his biggest career influence.

Aside from being a law enforcement officer and serving in the armed forces, Jason “The Sensation” Gavern is also a professional heavyweight boxer. He began his career as an amateur in 1998 and lost his first seven fights, but that was not enough to overcome his competitive drive and pure love for the sport.

In 2001, he competed in the National Police Athletic League, was a quarterfinalist for the United States championships, became the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves champion and won a bronze a medal in the National Golden Gloves championships. In 2002, he again became a quarterfinalist for the U.S. championships, won a bronze medal at the National Golden Gloves championships and a silver medal at American Boxing Classic tournament. All of the accolades mentioned were in the super-heavyweight division and accomplished while Officer Gavern was employed as a law enforcement officer. He continued the dual stint for his first seven professional fights before he chose to put away his cuffs, holster his firearm and don his gloves for the long haul of his boxing career.

Officer Gavern stated that while he was employed with the Scranton Police Department, the mayor and police chief would allow him to represent the city while on his boxing travels without having to take any vacation or sick leave for approximately four years, but when a new mayor and chief were appointed, the ambassadorship ceased.

He then told a story about an incident that occurred under the new management. “I was contacted to fight at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, on Friday, Oct. 3, 2003, on the under card of James Toney vs. Evander Holyfield. I requested time off from work for the fight and was told ‘no,’ so I called out sick and flew to Vegas for the fight. Well, when I showed back up for work. they asked, ‘What did you do this weekend?’ and I replied ‘hung out at the house.” Officer Gavern continued his story, “They then popped in a video, and I saw and heard Jimmy Lennon Jr. announce my name as I prepared to fight that was aired on television. I was then written up for misuse of sick leave,” Officer Gavern chuckled as he reminisced.

He won his four-round fight that night by way of unanimous decision against Larry Dawson.
Officer Gavern’s fight record sits at 27 wins, 21 losses, with four draws for a total of 52 professional fights, with 23 percent of those fights ending in a knockout by Jason “The Senation.” He won the World Boxing Council (WBC) Caribbean Boxing Federation heavyweight title on April 8, 2010, and later fought the 6-foot-8-inch Alexander “Sasha” Ustinov on April 26, 2012, for the vacant International Boxing Organization (IBO) Inter-Continental heavyweight title but fell to a loss in the seventh round. Officer Gavern was also ranked 13th at one point by the WBC and, when asked about a possible future bout, he said: “The fire is still there, but I’m not in the gym like I need to be. However, boxing has been very good to me, and if a fight offer came, I’m available.”

Officer Gavern is no stranger to taking fights on short notice, going all the way back to his amateur days — when he had trained for only two weeks before taking his first bout — and into his professional time, agreeing to only having six days to prepare for a bout with the current International Boxing Federation, IBO, World Boxing Association and recently World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. He is one of two people to step into the squared circle with both current champions in Joshua and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, with both Joshua and Wilder set to face one another in the near future of the sport to decide the undisputed heavyweight champion since the days of Lennox Lewis. That alone is sufficient as a testament to his “I will go and fight anybody, anytime and anyplace” mentality.

In his spare time, Officer Gavern enjoys doing crossfit exercises, boxing and spending quality time with his girlfriend. Other than the present time period, Officer Gavern said, “I would like to see the future 100 years from now with how technology advances and how it will be integrated with society of the time.”

When asked who it would be, if he could meet anyone of the past or present, he answered, “I’d like to spend more time with my grandpa, who recently passed.” Officer Gavern’s final response came to the question of which superhuman power he would like to possess and why, comically relating: “I want to be like Mel Gibson’s character in the movie, ‘What Women Want.’” In the movie, the character can hear the thoughts of women without their knowing. Officer Gavern offered, “Wouldn’t that be absolutely great to know those answers?”

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