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Legislators honor memory of late Police Chief Pete Peterson
Ceres Police accept 2015 plaque issued to honor chief
Accepting the Pete Peterson resolution on Aug. 1 were: (left to right), Ceres police officer Coey Henson, Greg Yotsuya, Lt. Chris Perry, Lt. JamesYandell, Captain Rick Collins, Chief Brent Smith, Lt. Pat Crane, Officer Dirk Nieuwenhuis, Officer Mike Vierra and (kneeling) Officer Vince Hooper. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Members of the Ceres Police Department recently received a resolution issued by state Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, and state Senator Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, posthumously honoring the late Ceres Police Chief Pete Peterson who died May 21, 2015.

The resolution was issued Nov. 13, 2015 but only presented at the National Night Out event on Aug. 1.

In November 2015 Karen Peterson, Peterson's widow, helped unveil a new plaque on the Ceres Police Department headquarters that he helped to build. The Third Street police department building formally memorialized the late ex-chief as the G.W. "Pete" Peterson Building during a special event.

Peterson, 77, died of cancer. He served as police chief of Ceres from June 1983 to March 1999 and during that tenure oversaw construction of the police headquarters as well as created a singular Department of Public Safety. The Public Safety Department concept held until last year when it was dismantled back into separate agencies.
Peterson also introduced new technology to the department, including mobile data terminals, and started the canine unit and a motorcycle unit.

The ceremony was reminiscent of a family reunion that included former police officers, business men and community members who were supporters of Peterson.

Peterson took over the Ceres Police Department after the retirement of then Chief Leroy Cunningham. Art deWerk picked up where he left off.

Current Police Chief Brent Smith was the subject of Peterson's last promotion before retirement and called Peterson a great mentor who continued to offer advice.

"He was also instrumental in building this police department building with Jim Marshall, who was city manager at the time," said Smith. "We talked to him before he passed and he was very happy about."

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

Born Nov. 28, 1937 in Paxton, Ill., Gail W. "Pete" 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 department and then to the city of Orange where he was a motor cop. Among his duties he helped direct traffic into the outdoor drive-in church started by Rev. Robert Schuller at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove.