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Musings on Mando
January 24, 2012 - Joe Gorman
What to say about former Warren Police Chief John Mandopoulos?
First of all, I made sure to spell his name right. In 20 years in journalism, it is by far the hardest name I have come across, even harder than Masterofrancesco, a name I had to master when I worked in sports and only mastered through repetitive typing.
But that was not the same for Mando's name, which I mangled more times than I care to imagine. Still, if he ever noticed, he never said anything, and in this form, I'm glad I can refer to him by his nickname, which is a lot easier to spell.
Seeing the news of his death at the age of 63 early Monday morning made me reflect on one of the most memorable characters I've ever covered. One of the things with Mando is I never knew which Chief I would get when I went over to the police station. Sometimes I would get a gruff ``Get the blank out of here' and I would be gone in less than 15 seconds. Other times, he would usher me into his office and hold court for up to two hours, mostly about past experiences as a cop. And there was never a warning.
Other cops I knew in other cities looked on him with a mixture of awe because of his refusal to carry a gun -- even when he worked narcotics -- yet also saying that is something they would never, ever do, no matter what. When my children were younger and I worked afternoon turn a lot, his voice was on the police scanner constantly after hours, and occassionally he would even check out out a call when he was supposed to be off duty himself. It was clear that his job was his life.
There was also the man who colleagues reminded me did far more good for people than he was given credit for, yet he never took credit for it and did not go out of his way to make those works known. What was known was his feuding with City Hall over budgetary and procedural matters within the police department and his unflinching loyality -- at least publicly, for the most part -- for anyone wearing a badge in the Historic Capital of the Western Reserve, which earned him loyality back from a lot of his charges.
I remember how emotional he was when I covered the murder of a young child, Logan Guyton, who was beaten to death, and as he gave me details over the phone, this man who had been a cop his whole adult life and who had seen plenty of blood and guts, had to pause several times to get his composure over the phone. It made me think more of him that he did not try to hide his sadness or horror over such a horrific crime.
One thing about Mando -- good or bad, depending on your point of view -- was he seemed to have a lack of tact. We all admire candor in our public servants -- indeed, there is hardly any in the level over county commissioner -- but sometimes there is a time to be brutally honest and a time to be honest with a grain of salt, and it seemed like Mando at times did not grasp that fact.
I think it was an example of why positions like that of a chief should be left to the discretion of the mayor rather than a test -- if your department heads aren't on the same page, life can be miserable. But that is the subject for another blog at another time.
In the end, I am glad I got to know him, although not a lot. I was the city reporter for a little over a year and I would talk to him when filling in for other reporters. He was a good man. Flawed, like all of us, but you could tell there was a lot of good in him.
May he rest in peace.
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