Veteran police officer retires after long tenure at Saddleback

Kara Willingham

Officer Cloyce Kelly, a twenty-three year veteran of the Saddleback Police and a former United States Marine, celebrated his retirement at a luncheon ceremony May 1.

Fellow officers, friends, campus staff and comrades-in-arms joined Kelly to celebrate both his professional service and the many friendships he had formed over the years.

“I have known Kelly for ten years and he is a fellow Marine Corps veteran and he served proudly and honorably,” said Tom Vetter, friend and retired officer as well. “He loves people and really cares about serving and protecting the students and faculty. He is a people person and a good friend, I am really glad to have known him all these years and I’m here to honor him at his retirement.”

Kelly has had a long history with Saddleback. He went to Saddleback in 1968 while in the Marine Corps. When he was in Vietnam he worked with a man by the name of Dennis Rotzall who in 1980 worked for the college. Rotzall suggested that Kelly apply for a job at Saddleback College and that is exactly what Kelly did.

“Saddleback College is like a breath of fresh air because of the beautiful campus and most importantly the opportunity to work with all of the hard working and dedicated staff and students,” Kelly said. “This College [Saddleback] is truly ‘The diamond of the California Community College system’.”

In a moving tribute, Saddleback Police Chief Harry Parmer described Kelly as the “heart and soul” of the department.

“Although we are losing him now to retirement we will continue to be influenced by his leadership and what he has brought to the department,” Parmer said. “I will remain friends with him until we both pass on to another life.”

A buffet was set up and friends of officer Kelly ate and congratulated him on a successful career.

Steve Weibel, a campus safety officer and long-standing colleague, subjected Kelly to a vigorous, but no less affectionate roasting that made the audience laugh and gasp.

Kelly listened to the stories Weibel told about his career and later shared one of his own.

“There was Women’s Basketball Tournament over a Christmas Holiday break. I and Officer Weibel were on duty, we got the call of a large fight in progress at the Gym,” he said. “We were at opposite ends of the campus and both responded to the Gym. By the nature of the call we both had our Batons out as we hit both ends of the gym at the same time. The first thing that happened as we ran in was someone hollered out “Dey’s got the sticks!!” Instantly all fighting stopped and every one regained order. It was amazing how quick it ended.”

Various faculty members who have become friends with Kelly over the years attended the party such as Bob Ferguson, psychology instructor.

“We have the same values,” said Ferguson about officer Kelly. “I want to see him in a police car again soon.”

Bill Bridgeford contributed to this story.