Leo Thalassites, the longest serving active police officer in the U.S., died August 18, at age 92.
“As America’s oldest serving law enforcement officer, Leonidas Thalassites is an excellent role model for the law enforcement community,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen, in 2016, when Thalassites was inducted into the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s inaugural Law Enforcement Officers’ Hall of Fame. “His dedication to serving others began at the age of 14 when he joined the Marine Corps and continues today as a reserve police officer for Hialeah Police Department.”
Thalassites was a highly decorated combat veteran of World War II and Korea who honorably served in all five branches of the military and earned three Purple Hearts. After serving his country, Thalassites moved to Florida and signed on with Dade County police in 1956. He transferred to the Hialeah police department in 1963 and has worked there on and off until 2016, according to his FDLE profile sheet.
Off the job, Thalassites had a reputation as a world-class combat sports trainer of champions.
His training accomplishments were recognized by the state in 2014, when he was inducted into Florida’s Boxing Hall of Fame for training fighters like Hector “Macho” Camacho, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran.
Thalassites’ mentor was his father, George, who taught hand-to-hand combat skills to elite Greek soldiers before serving, in the 1940s, as a priest at St. Sophia's Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Miami.
“My father was old school and taught me how to fight,” Thalassites told TNH in 2016.
In 2012, Thalassites was honored by Hialeah officials for being the “oldest active police officer” in the United States.
Though he moved to Tampa, in 1995, to be closer to the thriving Greek community in Tarpon Springs, Thalassites made frequent visits to Hialeah where he continued to work as a reserve police officer.
Thalassites is survived by his wife Corazon, of Palm Harbor, 11 children, 19 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Services were held on August 25 at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tampa.