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Island welcomes new police officer

Bailey Shay, 8, places a Bainbridge Island badge on her father, Erik Peffer, the newest member of the island’s police force as Peffer’s wife Jennifer watches.  - Henri Gendreau / Bainbridge Island Review
Bailey Shay, 8, places a Bainbridge Island badge on her father, Erik Peffer, the newest member of the island’s police force as Peffer’s wife Jennifer watches.
— image credit: Henri Gendreau / Bainbridge Island Review

When a two-alarm fire gutted the upper floor of a Hidden Cove Road home earlier this month, Bainbridge Island’s newest police officer wanted to help the family recover.

Within days of the inferno, officer Erik Peffer walked into the office of Police Chief Matthew Hamner and asked him if he had 10 minutes to spare.

“I said ‘No, I got to go,’” Hamner told a crowd gathered at city hall Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony for Peffer.

“He said, ‘OK, can you give me five?’” Hamner recalled.

Sighing, Hamner accompanied Peffer down the block to the Streamliner Diner.

“In officer Peffer’s hands were two bags of gifts for somebody on the island who was affected by the house fire,” Hamner said. “They had lost several items, their children had lost several items. Several of the officers gathered supplies together and bought gift cards with their own money. He walked in there and handed her both bags. And he reached into one and took out this stuffed animal,” Hamner said. “She broke down in tears.”

The homeowner’s son had lost his favorite stuffed animal in the fire; a monkey. Peffer’s young son had the same stuffed monkey at home, and they decided to donate it.

“I tell you that story because that’s the kind of officer we have sworn in today, and we should be extremely proud,” Hamner said.

Peffer took his oath Wednesday evening and his daughter Bailey Shay, 8, pinned his new badge on his lapel.

Peffer’s wife Jennifer and son Austin were also in attendance, as were numerous police officers and friends.

The island’s newest officer is new to Bainbridge, but not new to police work.

He was born in Casper, Wyo. and grew up in Colorado. He earned a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Northern Colorado, and  worked in residential banking and finance and operated his own business before becoming a police officer.

Earlier in his career, he served with the San Juan County New Mexico Sheriff’s Office and made the largest marijuana drug bust in the county’s history at the time. He was also a sniper on the county’s SWAT team.

Peffer has also received training in hostage negotiations, conflict resolution and homicide investigations.

Reporter Richard D. Oxley contributed to this article.

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