Norwich - When he started working for the city in 1973 as a traffic maintenance technician, Norwich native Warren Mocek hadn't envisioned himself in a police uniform - never mind spending 35 years in a career with the police department that culminated with his appointment to deputy chief.
Deputy Chief Mocek, the police department's second in command, is retiring this month and taking with him a wealth of institutional knowledge that Police Chief Louis J. Fusaro said will be hard to replace.
"It hurts to lose someone with that kind of knowledge and experience," Fusaro said. "He's done a lot of good work here and it's going to be hard to fill his shoes."
Mocek, 58, has accepted a job as a safety officer for the New London Board of Education. He starts his new job later this month despite a recent heart attack that he said only sidelined him for a few days. The attack came weeks after his retirement paperwork was squared away with the city.
Mocek will join retired former Norwich Police Lt. Stephany "Steve" Bakoulis, who started work in the New London school system in 2011. Mocek said he's already met with students and staff at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School and looks forward to working with the youth- and more regular work hours.
School Superintendent Nicholas Fischer said Mocek will be a welcome addition to the school system's security staff.
"We obviously look forward to bringing in his skills and experience, which are considerable, to work with our students," Fischer said.
The retirement is bittersweet for Mocek, who said he's built many relationships in his years working in Norwich.
"I've spent more time with some of these folks than I have with my own family," said Mocek. "It's difficult after 40 years to pick up and move on. There's your family and then there's your work family - all good people and all working towards the same goal of making the city a better place."
Fusaro, who watched Mocek rise through the ranks, called him "a friend and a great asset to the department."
"He's the type of person you can always count on to get something done - and done well," Fusaro said.
Mocek, a history buff who collects and rebuilds vintage engines and power units, is known at the department for a great memory for details and for sometimes torturing younger officers with references to movies that in many cases were made before they were born. He's as liable to quote Humphrey Bogart from a scene in The Maltese Falcon as his is to cite a quip from Capt. Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Fascinated by electronics, Mocek lent some of his vintage flashlights and other gadgets to a display case in the department's lobby and kept a 60-year-old Geiger counter in his office.
"It's interesting to see how things change as time moves on," Mocek said.
When he was hired by the city, fresh out of Norwich Technical High School with a background in electronics, traffic maintenance was run by the police department and Mocek quickly grew accustomed to rubbing elbows with police officers.
"The more exposure I had the more I said, 'hey, maybe this is something for me.'"
He started as a part-time officer in 1978 and was hired full-time later that same year. He worked his way up through the ranks, earning a promotion to sergeant in 1993, to lieutenant in 1995 and to captain in 1999. He spent less than a year as captain before being promoted to deputy chief, where he has worked for the past 13 years. Through the years he served as a detective, firearms instructor, field training officer and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Mocek earlier this year earned a lifesaving award for performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking student at Norwich Technical High School.
"I've met a lot of good people, but I've also seen some nasty things I hope to never see again," he said.
Mocek and his wife, Lorie, have two children and still live in Norwich.
Fusaro said the city's Human Resources Department will be accepting applications for the deputy chief's position. The deputy chief performs all internal investigations, is responsible for professional standards at the department and is the immediate supervisor of the captain, the detective lieutenant and records division lieutenant. It is only one of two non-union positions at the department.
Mocek is slated to start work in New London on Oct. 28.