SFU basketball legend, decorated police officer shares experiences with students


Jess Zinobile, a 2000 Saint Francis graduate and former Red Flash basketball star, visited criminal justice majors in their sociology class on Feb. 8.

A criminal justice major herself, Zinobile now works as a police officer at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina.

After graduating from SFU, Zinobile played professional basketball before becoming a member of the police force. She has been working in law enforcement for 15 years.

She has served on a Violent Criminal Apprehension Team for nine years.

“I couldn’t be in an office,” Zinobile said. “I like to be out in the field, undercover, in plain clothes in my car.”

Among the stories Zinobile shared with the students in SOC 101 was when she was shot in the line of duty.

Zinobile’s team was looking for a tracked phone in 2016 when the group got caught in a shootout with a perpetrator in an open front yard.

In the shootout, a bullet tore through her ankle – she was back in the field four months later.

“I called my guys while I was with the medic to tell them a description of the second guy I saw,” Zinobile said. “They still make fun of me for that.”

The former SFU basketball star said she adopted this type of team mentality from her time on the court. With only 14 people in her squad, Zinobile said she and her fellow officers look out for each other.

In 2016, Zinobile was designated Officer of the Year at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

As one of the only women on her team, Zinobile said she holds herself to a high standard.

“Being a female, I feel like I have to prove myself.”