COD Public Safety Academy Director gives insight on officers’ deaths

BY SONALEI AMADOR

STAFF WRITER

A visitor pays his respect at a memorial for Palm Springs police officers Lesley Zerebny and Jose "Gil" Gilbert Vega Monday, Oct. 10, 2016
A visitor pays his respect at a memorial for Palm Springs police officers Lesley Zerebny and Jose “Gil” Gilbert Vega Monday, Oct. 10, 2016                                     Photo Courtesy of AP Images

Two Palm Springs police officers were shot and killed on Oct. 8, 2016. COD Public Safety Academy Director Neil Lingle gave his professional insight on the tragedy.

Lingle said the deaths of the officers, “evoked a lot of sad memories for the department, of course for the families and community as well.” “It’s a tragedy,” he said.

According to Lingle, Officer Vega was a former student at COD. He said that his name will go on the memorial wall. Lingle said that he has been in touch with the COD President Dr. Kinnamon’s office to do something more in Officer Vega’s memory. He has been working with the architecture department to have COD, “connected to the greater college community” by dedicating the walkway that leads to the rest of the campus in Officer Vega’s memory.

Lingle envisions a gathering place for students and a bronze plaque that will remain lit with Vega’s image. He believes that it is a, “necessary thing for the college.”

Palm Springs police officers Lesley Zerebny and Jose G Gilbert “Gil” Vega were shot by 26-year-old John Felix. Zerebny had a four-month old baby and had just returned from maternity leave. Vega, nearing retirement, was a 35 year veteran of the police department who chose to work overtime that day.

Lingle has an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science Degree in Management from California Polytechnic University, Pomona. In Sept. 2007, Lingle retired as the Undersheriff and Chief Operating Officer of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. He also served in two municipal law enforcement agencies and with the United States Marine Corps. 

Lingle took over the role of Director of Public Safety Academy this year back in January. He has been a staff member of adjunct faculty for the past 27 years at COD. Following his career in law enforcement he decided to take the job.

Having had executive level leadership in law enforcement, Lingle said that he has been at similar scenes, given death notifications and handled funerals.

In addition, Lingle encourages students to visit the Sheriff Bob Doyle memorial. “It is an ever-present reminder on the campus for the sacrifice people have made so that we can live safely,” he said.”

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