There is a new sheriff in town in the Portage Township Schools system. Mike Candiano, this week’s A Portage Life in the Spotlight, was recently tapped to replace outgoing School Resource Officer Troy Williams.
Master Patrolman Candiano, 34, a graduate of Valparaiso High School and Indiana University with a degree in Business Administration, has been with the Portage Police Department for 10 years, starting as a reserve officer. He was named Portage Officer of the Year in 2008 and was the county’s top DUI officer for four years straight. Previously, Candiano worked at the Portage WalMart as the Assistant Store Manager.
“I started talking with the guys that worked security there [Walmart] and rode along with them, and realized that business was not my thing,” Candiano said “So I left the business stuff and never looked back.”
Being a 10 year veteran of the Portage Police, Candiano knows all too well the stresses of being a police officer. From doing traffic stops to going to calls nonstop, his new position is definitely a change.
“It is totally different,” Candiano said “Number one is you are usually going to calls all day long and people are calling because something is wrong. You deal with problems here, but there is a lot more good interaction.”
Candiano is also adjusting to another side of being a law enforcement officer.
“Not every time someone comes to talk to me now, it’s not just a problem, sometimes it’s just to talk. It is a refreshing change,” Candiano added “the sheer number of kids here is a lot too.”
Officer Candiano also expressed the strain that has been lifted on his home life. He is married to a teacher who works the same schedule as he does and has a two year old daughter. With his straight day job, Candiano is available to be home at night with his family.
“I wanted a change. Nine or ten years of doing the road stuff and seeing the darker side of society, I was ready to come in here and do something different,” he said in response to a question about why he took the position “I like the whole idea of being a mentor and getting to meet the kids.”
When asked what he wants to accomplish in his new role, Candiano described what he hopes will change the minds of some teenagers about law enforcement.
“I want to give [students] a whole other side of law enforcement, usually when they see us outside of here it’s because there is a problem,” he added “hopefully they can see a different side here. They can come in and talk about sports or anything really.”
Outside of his job, Candiano describes himself as a sports freak but says his number one activity is being with his two year old.
“My hobbies are pretty much fitness stuff, I run a lot of races, basketball, volleyball, pretty much anything sports related” he added.
For the time being, Candiano plans to stay in his position and hopes to build on relationships at the schools and the community.
“Troy was here for six years, and I hope to stay as long as he is Chief for his four years,” Candiano said.
For all the commitment that he has to his community through his job as the School Resource Officer and the fantastic job he has done as a Police Officer, Mike Candiano is most definitely a Portage Life in the Spotlight.