DALLAS TWP. — Township Police Officer John Mendygral cannot imagine doing anything else but working in law enforcement.
One might say the 39-year-old made up his mind to be a police officer at a young age.
“I think my interest started with my Uncle Bill,” Mendygral said, citing his uncle, William Howatt, a retired Hanover Township police chief. “I thought the police thing was cool – seeing the uniform and car. I grew up wanting to be a police officer.”
That early enthusiasm led Mendygral to be chosen to honored in the Times Leader’s Badge of Honor special section.
Mendygral held on to his career aspirations through childhood and adolescence. His professional path started in 2001 when he enrolled in the Police Academy program at Lackawanna College in Scranton.
In 2002, he acquired a position with his hometown police department – Harveys Lake Borough.
“It was everything I wanted it to be,” Mendygral said about his early law enforcement experience.
In 2006, he enlisted with the U.S. Coast Guard and served in active duty from 2006 to 2010.
At this time, Mendygral was stationed in Crisfield, Md., where he worked on navigation aids such as buoys, lighthouses and dayboards. Dayboards included information on water conditions, channel markers and more.
“I was in active duty until 2010,” Mendygral said, adding, he is a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves.
Also in 2010, the Back Mountain native returned home and obtained employment as a Dallas Township Police Officer.
“I really wanted to be a police officer,” he said. “That is why I left the Coast Guard.
“My favorite part is coming in for work and not knowing what is going to happen.”
Mendygral experienced the thrill of the unexpected on Jan. 9, 2017, when he joined other law enforcement agencies in a chase through a Dallas Borough neighborhood to apprehend a man who broke into Fino’s Pharmacy on Main Street.
“It was my first time responding to a burglary in progress,” he said. “I let my training take over.”
Mendygral recalled that winter day, “I was in the area, but when I got to the store, (the burglar) had left.”
Misericordia University students who were living in a rental unit behind Fino’s reportedly saw a man break the business’ window and crawl through the opening.
“He knew what he went in for,” Mendygral said.
Following residents’ sightings, Mendygral chased after Poist on foot from the Gate of Heaven parking lot up Machell Avenue in Dallas.
Mendygral saw Poist hiding in a bush.
“He threw a hammer,” Mendygral said. “I pointed my gun and called him out.”
His efforts to apprehend Poist resulted in him receiving a Letter of Commendation by former Dallas Township Police Chief Robert Jolley in February 2017. Also, Mendygral received a General Commendation Award from the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens, which is a trustee group to the American Police Hall of Fame in June 2018.
“I would never change what I do,” he said.
To read more Badge of Honor stories, click here.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.