EPD deputy chief to retire after 32 years of service

Sheila Burt

Michael Perry first came to Evanston Police Department in 1972 with the hope of rising to the position of sergeant.

Perry now serves as one of three deputy chiefs in the department and one of EPD’s two official public information officers. After almost 32 years of service, he will retire June 10.

“I never expected that,” Perry said of his rise to deputy chief. “Things just happened to fall the right way.”

Perry first began his work not in crime prevention but mail. He worked for the Chicago post office but joined EPD in January 1972 after a relative told him about an opening at the station.

He later graduated from the Police Training Institute in Champaign, Ill., where he attended classes eight hours a day for six weeks.

Through the years, Perry, who grew up in Chicago, rose through the ranks at EPD.

With encouragement from his wife and daughter, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from National-Louis University in 2000.

The degree enabled him to move up to commander six months later and finally to deputy chief this January.

As deputy chief, Perry oversees all criminal investigations and several bureaus in the department as well as handling the media.

“Although he appears like a soft person, he can do his job,” said Detective Vandell Catron, who has known Perry since 1974.

Catron, EPD’s domestic violence detective, recalled Perry’s organizational skills as an investigator and his willingness to back up any officer in the line of duty.

An internal search already underway will determine who will replace Perry, EPD Chief Frank Kaminski said.

The department will look for two new deputy chiefs, one to fill Perry’s position and the other to fill a vacant spot that could not be filled previously because of a tight budget that recently received funding approval.

Kaminski, who has known Perry for more than 30 years, said Perry’s retirement is bittersweet for the department.

“He’s a very organized, methodical person,” Kaminski said. “And he’s got a great heart. He’s always smiling around here.”

Cmdr. Joe Bellino, EPD’s other public information officer, recalled Perry’s upbeat nature and ability to connect with many in the department.

“In a nutshell, that’s Mike,” Bellino said.

Perry said he plans to spend his retirement years with his wife, who is retiring from her job at the Chicago Board of Education in June.

His plans consist of having “time to do what we want to do,” including traveling and relaxing.

He said he looks forward to not waking up to an alarm clock and not worrying about midnight phone calls because something happened.

Although he looks forward to his retirement, Perry said he will miss interacting with fellow officers at EPD.

Perry will be honored at the EPD station on June 10.

When explaining why he stayed in Evanston so long, he emphasizes the city’s multicultural demographic and its connection to a university.

But for Perry, simple words can also explain his tenure at EPD.

“I did it and got the job,” he said, “and this is where I’ve been since.”