The Mesa Police Department and its community lost one it finest early Monday morning while heading home after just completing his shift. Officer Brandon Mendoza’s — 32 years old and a 13-year veteran of the Mesa Police Department — life was tragically taken by a person driving the wrong way on three separate valley freeways ending in the fatal crash at the I-10 and U.S. 60 loop. I along with my fellow park rangers acquired a great working relationship with Officer Mendoza for many years patrolling several high crime area Mesa parks.
Thanks to Officer Mendoza and others, those parks don’t fall under the category of high crime any longer. I mostly patrol the east side Mesa parks which are parks located east of Gilbert Road and occasionally now and then patrol the west side parks. I remember always hearing at our ranger briefing about the efforts by an Officer Mendoza leading the tasks of cleaning up Mesa’s Guerrero Rotary and Kleinman parks. Every week I’d hear of the great job this officer was doing and I’d said I can’t wait to meet him. One of my fellow park rangers happened to be at Rotary Park one evening and radioed me to stop by to meet Officer Mendoza and to my surprise he was someone who I knew many years prior only as Brandon who was a student at Mesa High School. We both hugged and got a laugh at little re-union.
Officer Mendoza was well respected as an officer among his peers and loved by the many adults and children within the Rotary Park neighborhood. Rotary Park at one time was populated with drugs, alcohol, prostitutions and with un-desirables who camped out during the day giving the park a “shanty town” appeal. He along with other officers, park rangers and the community vowed to take Rotary Park back, and the mission was accomplished thanks to Officer Mendoza and the City of Mesa Parks and Recreation Department.
Rotary Park has new playground equipment, new lighting, an infield as good as the one in Cubs stadium, the art mural at the entrance received new painting, and a modern state of the art fence now encloses the park. Officer Mendoza took ownership in that park along with Kleinman and Reed Park and did his due diligent with pride patrolling the city streets of Mesa. I will always remember that stern look at first that soon followed with that little unique smile.
Brandon was truly a cop’s cop. I’ll never forget a call I received one night from our dispatch for a park ranger to meet PD at Reed Skate Park. Officer Mendoza responded to that call and arrived before I did, addressing 12 to 15 kids for setting a fire and jumping over it with skateboards. When I arrived Officer Mendoza had already locked and closed the skate bowl down for the night which was unheard of then. I thinking he must be real upset and found out later that one of those kids threw several open packs of ketchup on him while his back was turned.
Officer Mendoza surely left a positive mark on the city of Mesa, especially with the kids at Guerrero Rotary Park, 205 W. 8th Ave., and if ever over time there is a movement for a name change, I’ll be the first to raise my hands for Guerrero-Mendoza Rotary Park.
In closing Officer Mendoza, know that although you were off duty when we lost you, a police officer is always on duty I’ve been told. Your brothers within that thin blue line were alerted and doing their best to stop that vehicle before it caused any damage or lost of life. Brandon sadly unknown to you, you became that last line of defense with assisting your brothers who vowed as you did to “Protect and Serve” and gave the ultimate sacrifice in order that others may live.
Officer Brandon Mendoza, “good job” “good night” and “goodbye sir.”
John R. Goodie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mesa Park Ranger, Gilbert Resident