New deputy for Orcas Island: Eric Peter

Moving to Orcas to work for the San Juan County Sheriff’s office is a dream come true for Eric Peter.

“I would rather be a deputy in paradise than a police chief in hell,” said Peters. “I’ll be happy. I can do this for 20 more years.”

Born and raised in Houston, Peter spent 22 years with the city’s police department. Prior to his time as a law enforcement officer, he served three years in the Army as a light-wheel vehicle mechanic. He served during the Gulf War, which he said was a tough time.

“I believe that my time in the military had a positive impact on my life. I joined right out of high school so the experience made me ‘grow up’ really fast, especially being deployed to the Middle East a few months after training, and provided me some good life experiences along with some mental discipline,” said Peter. “I think that my service time did somewhat influence my decision to enter into law enforcement because I really wanted to help people who were victims of crimes and try to help prevent others from being victims of crimes.”

From patrol to working the gang unit and violent crime task force, Peter worked his way up through the ranks. The low crime and slower pace of work are a welcomed change for him.

“We’re totally different up here,” said Peter. “We’re kind of at peace.”

Peter and his wife Jennifer have spent nine of their 25 wedding anniversaries in the San Juan Islands. They were visiting a friend who moved to Seattle when they first came to the islands.

“‘This is the place we’re going to spend the rest of our lives one day,’” Peter said he remembers he and his wife thinking. “I’m about to come out of my skin that I’m actually living up here.”

While Peter has found a house on Orcas and has begun work as a deputy, his wife remains in Houston waiting for their house to sell and their daughter to graduate high school.

The Peters will have been married 26 years in June and have they two children: Rebecca, 18, and Ryan, 25. They also have two Chiweenie dogs, Bella and Buster.

Peter experienced the way the island can provide for people who are meant to be here when he found his rental property on a hill on Raccoon Point. It has a view, which he says his wife will love when she is able to move to the island. The Peters have wanted to move to the San Juans since their first visit and Peter says he’s happy to make that dream a reality.

“Life’s too short. I don’t want to say ‘I’ll do it one day’ and not make it there,” said Peter. “I’m just as excited as can be. I’m not leaving.”