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Former police chief had 'sense of right and wrong'

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By Julie Muhlstein
Herald Writer
  • Former Everett Police Chief James Perin

    Former Everett Police Chief James Perin

  • Former Everett Police Chief James Perin

    Former Everett Police Chief James Perin

  • Colleagues surprised Everett Police Chief James Perin with a ride on a white horse on the day he retired in 1982.

    Colleagues surprised Everett Police Chief James Perin with a ride on a white horse on the day he retired in 1982.

EVERETT -- Strong leader, caring volunteer, a man with an unshakable sense of right and wrong.
Former Everett Police Chief James Perin was known by loved ones, friends and colleagues for those standout qualities.
James Lee Perin died July 14 at age 84. A longtime Everett resident, Perin spent the last years of his life at a Warm Beach retirement community. His wife, Dolores, died last year.
Perin served 20 years with the Everett Police Department, retiring as chief in 1982. He previously had been a Snohomish County sheriff's deputy. A Marine Corps veteran who served at the end of World War II, he was in the grocery business before starting his law enforcement career.
For a decade after leaving the police force, he was a banker. Perin retired from the Everett-based Frontier Bank as a vice president in 1992. Frontier was closed in 2010, and reopened as Union Bank.
"My dad had a much-defined sense of right and wrong," said Mike Perin, 63, a retired Everett police officer who worked in the department with his father. He said his father required officers to conduct themselves in a manner reflecting that everyone is equal under the law.
In a surprise to the retiring chief, his last day on the job turned into a memorable spectacle.
Mike Perin recalled his father saying that all he wanted was to ride into the sunset on a white horse. With help from other officers and then-Mayor Bill Moore, that scenario happened.
"We went out in the country and got the loan of a white horse named Daisy," Mike Perin said. The horse was 12 years old, but when the chief got in the saddle "Daisy had an attack of youthful exuberance."
"It took us four blocks to catch him. We got him cornered with police cars," Mike Perin said.
Everett Police Capt. Greg Lineberry got to know Jim Perin after he retired as chief. That white-horse image "absolutely fits with his strong sense of right and wrong," Lineberry said. "Even in retirement, he had a strong sense of the department and leadership. He was known here as a 'chief's chief.' No question, that guy was the chief of police, and all business."
Sgt. Danny Johnson of the Everett Police Department remembers a late-night encounter with the chief. Johnson was on duty and noticed, on a wall of photos, a mustache drawn in marker on a framed picture of an officer. "I got the Windex and was up on a chair cleaning it off when I heard the door open. Then I heard that voice -- 'What are you doing?' It was the chief. He said, 'I knew I liked you for a reason," Johnson recalled.
"It was 2 or 3 in the morning. He was just out and stopped by to see how things were going. You always knew right where you stood with the man," Johnson said.
Mike Campbell, who retired earlier this year as the Everett Police Department's deputy chief, knew two sides of Perin.
As a young officer in training, Campbell said he had a tough experience that later served him well. "I had a policy violation, and Chief Perin suspended me. It made quite an impression, the high standard he had for everybody," Campbell said. "Over the years, I told people about my suspension when I was having to levy discipline. Everybody is going to make a mistake once in awhile."
Campbell got to know a different Jim Perin after the chief retired and moved with his wife to Texada Island and later to Powell River in British Columbia. On visits, Campbell and his wife saw a man deeply committed to the Salvation Army church in his new home.
"They were very involved in outreach to people in need," Campbell said. "It gave me insight into him really caring about other people. He was more spiritual than I realized in my career."
The Perins lived in Canada nearly a decade before returning to Snohomish County. Campbell said James Perin volunteered many hours at the Warm Beach Senior Community Thrift Shop. And at the Warm Beach Free Methodist Church, he helped fill hundreds of shoeboxes for a charity that provides Christmas gifts to children in need.
Perin is survived by his brother, Robert Perin, son Mike Perin and daughter-in-law Terri, by two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Dolores, and son Randy.
"He was really an incredible man," said Eric Earling, who is married to Jim Perin's granddaughter Stephani Perin-Earling.
Earling said Perin's zeal for service stretched back to his military days. With his mother's permission, he joined the Marines at 16. At the end of World War II, he served in China as Allied forces disarmed the Japanese. "He cared a lot about his community. He was involved in both leadership and service," Earling said.
"Anybody who came across Jim would never forget him," Capt. Lineberry said. "He was a good guy."
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;
Service planned
A memorial service for former Everett Police Chief James Perin will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Warm Beach Free Methodist Church, 20815 Marine Drive, Stanwood.
Story tags » EverettPolicePeople

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