True Detective Story

Mariano Albano--a caring iconoclast and a first-rate cop--retires after 20 years

"Victims, witnesses, suspects and actual perpetrators can tell when you're trying to bullshit them," he says, "and you may hate a guy's guts, but you want them to tell you everything. It's possible to feel compassion temporarily for someone you may hate. And I did hate these molesters and these mothers who would say, 'Woe is me,' rather than, 'Woe is my daughter.'"

The ironclad confessions that Albano elicited from untold numbers of suspects made him popular with prosecutors in the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

"Mariano is one of a kind, that's for sure," says Dyanne Greer, a prosecutor nationally known for her work in child-abuse cases. "You could see how the kids--the victims--trusted him, and you could see the hurt in his eyes when he was doing his job."

In turn, Albano speaks fondly of several sex-crimes prosecutors, naming Greer, Kenna Fitch, Vince Imbordino, Laura Reckart and Cindi Nannetti as favorites.

"To keep your mental health in sex crimes is a tough trip," he says. "There is awful case after case after case. A sense of humor is very, very necessary. The best prosecutors are the ones who are professional, but can laugh at the weirdest shit that comes up."

The rigors of investigating sex crimes finally caught up to Albano a few years ago.

"I was in an interview with a kid," he says, "and I realized I wasn't listening to word one. I knew what she was going to say before she said it. I realized right then that I no longer had the edge I needed to make it work in sex crimes."

Albano informed his supervisor, who reassigned him to the vice squad. After only a few months, Albano asked for a transfer back to patrol.

He spent the final three years of his career patrolling the streets of East Van Buren, the perennial home of pimps, prostitutes and assorted scoundrels.

"It was just like when I started in the Golden Gate, other than I was older, slower and hopefully a little smarter," he says. "It was like this: Be firm but stay cool, tell the truth, don't push people around, show respect, be quick on your feet. That's playing policeman."

After 20 years, two months and two days, Albano retired. He says he plans to earn a teaching degree, after which he hopes to coach soccer on the high school or college level.

"I'm glad I retired in one piece," he says. "Now I got a lot of life ahead of me--I hope. I haven't done that bad for a guy born in a pool hall.

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