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Ceres Police building to bear late chiefs name
Pete Peterson
The name of the late Ceres Police Chief Pete Peterson will be affixed to the Ceres Police Department headquarters. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The Ceres Police Department headquarters will soon be named after former Police Chief Gail W. "Pete" Peterson who died of cancer on May 21 at the age of 77.

At Monday's City Council meeting, Chief of Police Brent Smith gave details that Peterson's name will be memorialized on the left side of the front entrance in 6-inch-tall brass letters. The headquarters, which Peterson was instrumental in having built in the late 1980s, will be officially named the G.W. "Pete" Peterson Building.

Peterson took over the Ceres Police Department on June 30, 1983 after the retirement of then Chief Leroy Cunningham. He was instrumental in guiding the building of the Police Department headquarters with then City Manager Jim Marshall and converting the police and fire departments into one department. The Public Safety Department concept held until last year when it was dismantled back into separate agencies.

"He was really a great mentor," said Chief Smith, who was hired as an officer by Peterson in March 1999.

Smith told Peterson during his illness of the plans to name the building after him and reported that "he was very happy about it."

During his 16-year service with Ceres police, Peterson introduced new technology such as mobile data terminals, said Smith. He also started the canine unit and a motorcycle unit before turning the reins over to Art deWerk.

Peterson served as police chief of Moscow, Idaho, when Ceres hired him for the position. Peterson told the Courier at the time that: "Ceres was the opportunity I just couldn't pass up."

Born Nov. 28, 1937 in Paxton, Ill., Peterson went into law enforcement in the late 1950s as a reserve officer for the Newport Beach Police Department. Following a brief stint there, he moved to the Laguna Beach Police Department and then to the city of Orange where he was a motor cop.