By Rikki King Herald Writer
EDMONDS — Gerry Gannon still laughs about his first bad guy.
It was 1978 or 1979. Fresh out of the Marine Corps, Gannon was working security at a local department store. He caught a shoplifter, and was hooked.
“He stole one lousy greeting card,” Gannon said.
By the end of 1979, Gannon was an Edmonds police officer. A few years later, he pulled someone over near the ferry dock. It was the same shoplifter. He didn’t recognize Gannon.
“I told him, ‘If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have gotten into law enforcement,’” Gannon said. “He said, ‘I’m taking the Fifth,’ and then he drove off.”
After more than 32 years as a cop in Edmonds, Gannon is heading east, to North Dakota, where his in-laws farm wheat, barley, sunflowers and soybeans.
The year’s predicted early harvest sounded like a vacation, he said.
“It’s every guy’s dream, driving a big tractor,” he said. “The tires are taller than I am.”
Gannon, 56, has served as Edmonds assistant police chief since 2002. He also spent time as a motorcycle cop, a detective, a SWAT team member and was part of the task force that brought down homegrown serial arsonist Paul Keller.
Gannon lives in Everett with his wife, Donna. They’ve been married 29 years.
Gannon watched Edmonds grow, and the police department along with it, he said. He stayed so long because he loved the community.
“They’ve been supportive of the police department throughout my career,” he said. “They’ve made it really a wonderful place.”
Gannon was an advocate for the officers who worked for him, Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan said.
“I think he was good at encouraging younger members of the department to do their best and to continue to improve themselves,” the chief said. “Gerry really tried to do that throughout his career.”
Gannon was just as caring to people in the community, Compaan said.
The chief read from a feedback card that a woman turned into the police station in November. She’d been pulled over recently by someone she called “Officer Gerry.” She and her husband had just moved to town.
Along with the feedback card, she brought a fresh-baked pie.
“After meeting ‘Officer Gerry,’ she said she knew her and her husband made the right choice by moving to Edmonds,” the chief said.
Gannon’s favorite arrest came early in his career.
In 1982, police were looking for Kenneth Lloyd Pendleton, a serial bank robber who’d just escaped from prison. Pendleton also was suspected of murders and marijuana-growing.
Gannon spotted Pendleton’s car outside a motel along Highway 99 in Edmonds.
He remembered calling in the license plate.
“The radio just went dead silent, and the dispatcher said, ‘Do you have that car?’ And I said, ‘Yes ma’am,’” he said.
Two prized items from Gannon’s office were among the last to get taken home: a wooden sculpture of the Marine Corps eagle, globe and anchor commemorating a neighbor’s trip to the Philippines in the 1970s, and a ceramic ashtray that used to sit in the briefing room, back when cops smoked in meetings.
Gannon plans to use the ashtray for cigars now.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com.