Ron Perea – Truckee’s Classic Deputy
Any one who knows Ron Perea will tell you that one of his greatest traits is a willingness to listen, no matter the person, no matter the subject. And it is perhaps that single characteristic that made him such a great Truckee sheriff for 31 years.
“You could compare him to Andy Griffith ” an old-town sheriff with a good heart. That quiet side of him is what made him a great sheriff because he didn’t rush into anything, and he would look at all sides of a situation,” said Chaun Mortier, a dispatch manager at the Truckee Sheriff’s department who worked with Perea for nearly 25 years. “He takes what people say and feel to heart.”
That ability to listen was the saving grace for one frantic woman who called Perea in 1993 to tell her story of a gruesome and horrific double homicide that that taken place almost a decade earlier.
For nine years Terry Knorr and her story had been rebuffed by law officials and attorneys who found her facts too hard to believe. Knorr’s claim was that her two older sisters had been brutally murdered by their mother, one bound and burned alive off of Highway 89 in 1984, the other starved to death in a closet and stuffed into a 2×2 cardboard box, and dumped by Martis creek the following year. Both bodies were so disfigured that the victims could not be identified and both cases went cold.
But when Knorr found Officer Perea he listened, and through her story the identities of the unidentified bodies were found, and Knorr’s mother was brought to justice.
In Perea’s 31 years as an officer of the law in Truckee, this was the most sensational case he dealt with. Most other incidents in Truckee were small and easier to manage, such as bear calls and automobile accidents.
“When I started here things were pretty quiet, and Northwoods was the only paved road into Tahoe Donner,” he said. “We got a lot of calls of burglaries of vacation homes. A lot of people were breaking in and living there for a week before leaving because they knew that folks were only up there on the weekends.”
When asked what kept him on the force so long, Perea said that helping people and knowing that he was making a difference in the community were the greatest factors. He says he used to know everyone in town and could drive down the street and wave to almost every car. He got to know the locals by spending time at the Wagon Train, where he enjoyed his morning coffee and conversation for years.
“There was never a time when he didn’t have the time for you,” said Linda Brombacker, a community services officer with the Truckee Police Department who has known Ron for more than 30 years. “His door was always open and he was always very supportive.”
Perea says he has seen much change over the years, making Truckee almost a different place entirely. The sheriff working in Truckee prior to his arrival had no office or radio, according to Perea, so the Truckee Hotel would take the sheriff’s calls and turn on a red light to alert him.
“I’m pretty calm, but I get frustrated by traffic, knowing that you have to wait to get across Donner Pass Road. When I first moved up here you would have to wait for a car to come,” he said.
But Perea still loves this place and says he wouldn’t ever wish to leave. It is the place where he raised his children Kathy and Ron, and where his children are now raising their own.
“Truckee is just a great place to live. My wife and I like to hop in the Jeep and explore the back roads, taking a different route each time,” he said. “Fall is my favorite season here because it’s a peaceful time; crisp and clear. Though I don’t necessarily like what is coming after. I went cross-county skiing one time, and downhill skiing one time, but I was working and couldn’t afford to get hurt.”
Not that he is retired, he says he is catching up on 31 years of work on his house, which he helped build decades ago. He’s staining his deck and spending time with his grandbaby.
“He comes in here sometimes and gives us a hard time because we’re still working and he’s not. He really enjoyed this job,” said Mortier.
When it was time to throw Perea a retirement party, the sheriff’s department received an overwhelming response from local merchants and grocers who wanted to cater the party for free and bring by gifts and cards expressing their appreciation for his relentless dedication to their community. In all, nearly 200 people were in attendance to bid adieu to a local favorite.