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Police foundation honors Chief Pillo during annual fundraiser

Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo gets a standing ovation at a police foundation breakfast for her 35 years of public service, 28 of which have been in the city. She retires this year. Her last day is April 15. - Brandon Macz
Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo gets a standing ovation at a police foundation breakfast for her 35 years of public service, 28 of which have been in the city. She retires this year. Her last day is April 15.
— image credit: Brandon Macz

The Bellevue Police Foundation honored retiring Police Chief Linda Pillo for her 28 years of service to the city during its fundraising breakfast on Thursday, March 27, the proceeds of which are slated for grants to add to the department's arsenal of provided services and advancements in policing technology.

Since its creation in 2009, the foundation has provided more than $360,000 in grants to aid the city's police department, said Deputy Chief Mike Johnson, who is also the latest addition to its board of directors.

The foundation recently funded the purchase of night-vision equipment that aided officers in arresting a suspect in as many as 14 armed robberies in the city the day prior to the foundation breakfast, said Johnson. Thermal equipment purchased through a foundation grant also allowed SWAT members to track the movements of a suspect during the execution of a search warrant in Renton, he said. Using the equipment, Johnson said officers were able to track the person's movements while they hid in the attic.

The former director of the King County Adult and Juvenile Detention, Mayor Claudia Balducci said the Bellevue Police Department had been one of the best law enforcement agencies to work with during her time in that position.

"When you're in Bellevue, you know you're in a safe community, and we owe it to our dedicated men and women in law enforcement," said Balducci.

While the foundation breakfast focused mainly on advancing the abilities of the police department, all speakers couldn't go without addressing Pillo's retirement. Her final day will be April 15. The city has not yet announced an interim chief to head the department until a new city manager can hire a permanent replacement.

Pillo started her career in law enforcement with the Mercer Island Police Department in 1979, and joined Bellevue Police in 1986. She became the city's first female police chief in 2008. Foundation President Jim Karambelas presented Pillo with a gift from the foundation to thank her for her service.

Karambelas said its not just funds that the foundation provides, but community outreach that allows Bellevue officers more time to tackle tough cases, "so that we can enjoy the safe community that we all live in with our children." As criminals continue to take advantage of new technology, the foundation will continue its efforts to keep the department up with the latest in crime-fighting equipment, he said.

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