CATHEDRAL CITY – “When a police officer is killed, it’s not an agency that loses an officer, it’s an entire nation.” Those are words of Chris Cosgriff, founder of the Officer Down Memorial Page.
On Oct. 28, 1988, the nation lost an officer.
On March 19, 2011, the nation lost another.
The loss of each was personal for the Cathedral City Police Department and its comrades in the Coachella Valley, Riverside County and the state of California.
Police Officer David Vasquez was struck and killed Oct. 28, 1988 by a vehicle at the Intersection of 35th and Date Palm Drive while assisting at the scene of a traffic collision. Officer David Vasquez, 30, had served with the Cathedral City Police Department since its formation in June 1984.
Vasquez was assigned to provide traffic control at a non-injury collision. He had laid out a cone/flare pattern to shut down one lane of traffic for the officers to safely conduct their investigation. A civilian driver, later found to be driving on a suspended license, drove into the closed lane and struck Officer Vasquez at approximately 30-40 mph, killing him almost instantly. He was rushed to Eisenhower Medical Center and pronounced dead upon arrival, according to the Cathedral City Police Department.
On March 19, 2011, Police Officer Jermaine A. Gibson was killed while involved in a vehicle pursuit. His vehicle left the roadway and collided with a tree on South Palm Canyon Drive near Mesquite Avenue in Palm Springs. Officer Gibson, 29, was a U.S. Marine veteran and had served with the Cathedral City Police Department for 18 months.
Gibson attempted to pull over a stolen vehicle at approximately 11:30 p.m. and gave chase after the suspect failed to pull over. His vehicle left the road and crashed in Palm Springs at approximately 11:55 p.m. The suspect vehicle also crashed and two suspects were taken into custody.
To honor the memory of each fallen officer, the Cathedral City Police Department is dedicating a Fallen Officer Memorial at the Cathedral City Civic Center. The dedication is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Police Department, 68700 Ave. Lalo Guerrero.
The event will include a formal dedication ceremony by the men and women of the Cathedral City Police Department. Families and friends of each fallen officer, along with local and regional law enforcement officials and community dignitaries will be in attendance. The community is welcome and encouraged to attend this event, made possible by the contributions of numerous groups and individuals.
For those attending, parking is available at the Cathedral City Civic Center parking structure, located west of the Police Department.
At least 20 local law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty since 1956 when Deputy Howard R. Scheffler, 28, was killed after working one year with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Scheffler was killed in an automobile accident while returning to Indio Station from an official trip to Riverside. During the trip his vehicle veered off of the divided highway and flipped over.