Lou Ferrigno: Volunteer reserve SLO County sheriff's deputy
One of the best loved super heroes of all time, has what psychologists would call “an anger management problem.”
But the mild-mannered actor who played the not-so-jolly green giant, who owns a home in Arroyo Grande, is now making a career off-stage as a peace officer… first in L.A., and now here on the Central Coast, with the San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s office.
While playing Bruce Banner’s angry alter ego in the 1970’s tv show, Lou Ferrigno spent lots of time chasing down bad guys, dressed mostly in green make-up.
I asked Ferrigno, “how does this fit in to the whole puzzle?”
He smiled. “Well this is not a costume. This is the real thing because I’ve played sheriff over the years in different films. I’ve done over 40 films. This, I take very seriously and I’m very excited, very proud to be a deputy because my whole life I’ve always wanted to be a sheriff.”
Since 2012, Lou figures he’s dedicated 20 hours a month to the SLO County sheriff’s office.
“Lou started at L.A. sheriffs as a reserve,” explains SLO County sheriff Ian Parkinson. “He was interested in volunteering time here and wanted to commit time to San Luis County because he was a part time resident here as well for many years. I’d known Lou for years, so first it was kind of the personality test to make sure he was the type of guy that I thought would represent us well, which I obviously did, otherwise I would not have been friends with him.”
You might not guess that his acting would have prepared him for real police work, but there are some skills that translate. As “The Hulk,” he had to remain calm under pressure and the Hulk did occasionally handle guns, though not with the kind of precision expected of sheriff’s deputies.
“He goes through the same standard as the regular patrol deputy or correctional deputy required to go through qualification and pass,” explained Parkinson.
In fact, Ferrigno attended the police academy in southern California at the urging of L.A. County Sheriff, Lee Baca.
“People assume it’s just an honorary thing,” Ferrigno smiled. “It isn’t, because I’m certified and I have police powers which I’m very proud of. So, I went through all the driving, the shooting, the studying, and it changed my life and I’m very happy to be a real-life hero, protecting life and property.”
Ferrigno’s speaking style is unique. As a child, he suffered a debilitating ear infection, that destroyed most of his hearing. His father, an N.Y.P.D. lieutenant, continued to push him though, and when Lou found bodybuilding, he attacked the sport with laser focus. By age 21, he’d won the world title.
“It always fascinates me how I can connect with the people,.. teach people about leadership,” Ferrigno said. “Take care of your body…exercise…feel good about yourself. Be disciplined like myself as a body builder… so that effects other things you do in your life.”
“Lou is kind of a testament that… ‘don’t let anything get in your way” and I think he’s kind of proved that.”
I asked, “but he hasn’t grabbed your gun and tried to break it in half or anything?” Parkinson laughed. “No. Not yet…. not from me.”
By-the-way, Ferrigno is hosting a body building competition coming up November 28, 2014 in Santa Barbara and all his law enforcement buddies are planning to be there.
See Original KSBY story here.