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DEC-2010 Theo Karantsalis

2010 - 85-year old Hialeah Police Officer Leo Thalassites still working for Hialeah - let's hear it for Leo!

Hialeah City Hall, Palm Avenue, Hialeah, Florida

From the Miami Herald:

Octogenarian cop keeps young officers in shape

At 85-years old, Hialeah Police Officer Leo Thalassites is the oldest active cop on record in Florida.

When a mugger shoved a .357 into Leo Thalassites’ ribs at a Miami parking lot last summer, he got more than a wallet. He got a beatdown.

“He thought I was soft,” said Thalassites, a Hialeah police officer, who, at 85, is the state’s oldest active officer.

Thalassites calmly recalled the night near Southwest Eighth Street when he cracked ribs, knocked out teeth and fractured the skull of a would-be mugger with his bare hands.

When the 6-foot-2, 250-pound thug woke, his blurry vision focused on Thalassites, who was looking down at him, with eyes closed, praying softly in Greek.

“I forgive you,” said Thalassites, before the startled man darted through an alley and called police for his own protection.

Thalassites commutes three times a week to Hialeah from his home in Palm Harbor, near Tampa. He hires a driver for the more than 3-hour commute. His job is to work in the gym to get officers in shape.

The FDLE could not identify another officer who has served at age 85 or older.

“He is still a certified police officer and he has active employment,” said Heather Smith, an official with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

His father, George Thalassites, was a seventh-generation priest who served Miami’s Greek community in the 1940s. He also taught combat fighting to elite Greek soldiers.

The younger Thalassites couldn’t learn to write Greek well enough to be a priest, so his father gave him two life lessons:

• Put “Jesus first” before anything else in life.

• Take care of your body.

He shuns fatty foods and hasn’t had a soda in more than 60 years. He eats measured portions of chicken and vegetables and drinks only water.

“My body is the temple of God,” he said.

On the rare occasion he goes to a restaurant, he chats with the cook.

“I talk to him, see?” said Thalassites, in a thick New England-accent. “I have him show me his hands then I tell him I want it cooked right. Understand?”

Each day at 4 a.m., he springs out of bed to pray, run a few miles, lift weights and punch a heavy bag.

Thalassites, a Marine Corps fight club champion in the 1940s, insists that teaching discipline can save lives.

He joined the Dade County Police Department in 1956, then transferred to Hialeah in 1963 where he was promoted to sergeant and taught defensive tactics.

He has taught self-defense to thousands of officers during his 54-year police career.

Thalassites has trained boxers like Hector “Macho” Camacho, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran.

In 1999, former Hialeah Police Chief Rolando Bolanos and the department honored Thalassites by naming the police gym after him.

The biggest threat to public safety today, according to Thalassites, is out-of-shape cops who are not serious about training.

“Leo inspires confidence in younger officers,” Bolanos said. “He can overpower any man I have ever met.”

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JOE RIVEIRA 21-Dec-2016 04:19
Guest 28-Oct-2015 09:46
As a fellow LEO. I can not believe you were quoted blaming over weight cops that are quick to pull the trigger. You should know more than anyone you can't use "your fists" you referred to like you could in the past. It's a completely different world and you should know that more than anyone here.
Mariac Hernandez (was Iniguez 16-Feb-2014 03:55
Congrats Leo admired you back then and proud of you now. God Bless
Guest 14-Aug-2012 03:40
Officer Leo was, is one of the good ones. My father Al Dorcas was a Hialeah cop at the same time Leo was and even back then he was someone everyone admired. He taught
police officers how to be fit not only physically but mentally as well. Seeing him still doing what he love makes and sharing it makes the world a better place. Thank you Leo
Beverly Dorcas Roberson
william poirier 29-May-2011 13:39
I have known Leo since i was a baby. My father, Capt Harold '900' Poirier, was a Hialeah police officer with Leo from 1957-1981. Leo is a great man! glad to still read that he is doing well!
Don Boyd11-May-2011 02:55
Guest, I would say the Sun Sentinel was correct in saying those things about you. Leo works in the police gym getting younger officers in shape and I doubt if he's in uniform like you. Congrats on your longevity too! Stay safe. : )

Robbin P. Learned 26-Jan-2011 05:31
Correction: I said that Leo , was in The Olympics Participating in Greco American Wrestling, But that should have Read Greco Roman Wrestling. I
noticed My Error after I had Published it, so it was too Late to Correct it.
Robbin P. Learned.
Chuck Par-Due 25-Jan-2011 20:52
I used to work with his daughter at Publix on 49th St. All the boys were afraid of him!! LOL
Robbin P. Learned 19-Jan-2011 21:31
My Younger Brother , and I took Judo Lessons, at A Judo School, on Hialeah Drive, in The Late 50's , and Early 60's, and Leo Thalassites, used to Walk By our Dojo, and Many times: He came in , and Watched Our Classes, and Spoke with our 2 Instructors : Mike, and Tom. I Met Leo then, and there, and He Left A Lasting Impression On Me. He was A Greco - American Olympic Champion Wrestler, I Remember. And For Years: He was The Self Defense Instructor, For The Hialeah Police Department. I Say Hello , To Leo, and I Render A Salute To This Fine Gentleman, and To His Years Of Service To The People Of Hialeah on The Police Department. Robbin P. Learned.
Sofia 16-Jan-2011 18:02
Hi Don. I really enjoyed reading this, thanks for posting it. This gentleman is a true inspiration.
rick 07-Jan-2011 21:25
What a great article and so happy to read that you are doing so well. Would love to meet up with you on one of your trips to miami. Try to contact me @ my email addr Rick Dicaterino
Don Boyd21-Dec-2010 04:16
Wow, I was a sophomore at Hialeah High when Leo was hired by the Hialeah Police Department and I remember when he was hired. The Home News did numerous articles about Leo at the time and no one could forget his name. Congrats on your longevity, Leo, and may you live a lot longer in good health!