Deputy George Perillo may be the last career Snohomish cop
Doug Ramsay photo
Snohomish Police Department Deputy George Perillo stands next to a city police cruiser for a photo. After 25 years working numerous roles in the city’s police department, including school resource officer, commander and interim police chief, he is moving over to a unit of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office policing Paine Field.
SNOHOMISH — After 25 years, a man who’s worn many hats, but all of them in service to the people of Snohomish, is heading to a new post policing the Paine Field Airport.
Sheriff’s Deputy George Perillo has handled a number of bar fights and traffic stops since joining the department in 1993, but he’s also written a grant that saved a local officer from losing his job and helped a distressed cow deliver her calf.
Perillo was honored for his quarter century of service during the Jan. 15 City Council meeting. His “dedication, work ethic and most important, integrity, are his trademarks,” said Mayor John Kartak.
But Perillo didn’t plan on a career in law enforcement. His working life began in Southern California. He enjoyed engaging with people while working at Safeway during college; that love of interacting and learning from everyone he met eventually led him to his vocation.
He then spent years in avionics engineering, “cooped up in an office,” working on B-2 stealth bombers and other projects. But, bothered by the accordion way engineers were laid off at the end of each assignment, he decided to try law enforcement. It was on a ride-along with Rob Beidler, now a Snohomish County undersherrif, where Perillo “caught the bug.”
“I’ve forgotten more than I remember,” Perillo said when asked about his years on the force, but he still had many stories to share.
One unforgettable episode: the 1999 WTO riots in Seattle.
After riot training and being bussed to the scene, “we got off the bus … and it was just like a movie set … things were flying through the air… rocks, Molotov cocktails…” Perillo remembered. The officer spent three days in an uprising so chaotic that at one point police shot two FBI agents trying to get through a police line with bean bag rounds because officers couldn’t be sure these were actual agents, Perillo recalled.
Over the years, there were many lighter moments, unique to the rural community. When a photographer visiting a farm called police about a cow in labor having difficulties, Perillo put on his obstetrician’s cap when he and another officer each took a leg and safely brought the calf into the world. “Slippery” is what Perillo remembers most from that day.
Photo courtesy Snohomish County Sheriff's Office
In 2015, Deputy George Perillo (at left) and Sgt. Ryan Gausman assist a Snohomish farmer with pulling out a calf as the farmer couldn’t access equipment used with a difficult birth.
In a career that has spanned seven police chiefs, Perillo made unique contributions to the department. In 2006, he served as interim police chief, and from 2007 to 2010, as an operations commander. Work as a school resource officer helped round out his experience.
He’s particularly proud of a 2008 grant he earned through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program that resulted in preventing an officer’s job from being lost in budget cuts.
With experience as an emergency management liaison, Perillo wrote the city’s 2010 emergency management plan.
Perillo has won many honors, including a 2014 award for saving the life of a man who overdosed on heroin.
No matter which hat he wore on any given day, Perillo has clearly enjoyed the work.
“It’s no mystery” why he’s stayed in Snohomish all these years, he said. He raised a family here and saw his kids graduate Snohomish High School. “It’s the atmosphere … this is a good community.”
While the tools and rules have changed over the years, Perillo said the work really hasn’t: it’s about talking to and educating the public. It’s about trusting his training and his gut, he said.
Perillo’s departure marks the end of an era. He is the last officer who served the department before the city began contracting with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in 2012, said Police Chief Keith Rogers. Now,
under the sheriff’s office,
officers can rotate among
stations, meaning Perillo may become Snohomish’s last career officer.
“I am honored to join Mayor Kartak in formally recognizing Deputy George Perillo for his 25 years of dedicated service,” Rogers said in a statement. “We truly appreciate Deputy Perillo’s service to this community and wish him continued success.”
Perillo is not hanging up his hat quite yet: He’ll begin work in the new police unit at Paine Field beginning Feb. 1.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege,” Perillo told the council. But also, he added later, “I’ve enjoyed working here immensely. It’s fun!”
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