Theo Chalogianis could not quiet the echoes.
They were louder than the drums he was pounding, the Los Angeles music scene or any dreams of making it big.
The echoes were beckoning him home to Michigan.
“I knew there was a deeper calling, and it turned out to be community engagement, customer service and law enforcement,” Chalogianis said. “It was busy, very hectic in L.A. and there were a lot of opportunities, but the law enforcement world drew me back to Michigan.
“The love of music will always be in my blood, but there was a deeper meaning of spreading positive energy to others.”
Chalogianis is doing just that as the first lead police officer embedded in the Michigan Medicine community. In the role only a month, Chalogianis brings to it 2½ years of experience with U-M hospital security, 18 years as a U-M police officer with the Division of Public Safety and Security, including 11 years on SWAT, a founding member of two SWAT teams and community engagement roles at both Michigan Medicine and U-M Police.
It’s not banging drums live and studio recording in the City of Angels like he did during the 90’s, but it has completely satisfied Chalogianis’ thirst for something deeper.
“It’s amazing, a great fit,” he said of the new role. “I feel right at home. It’s very busy, meaningful and rewarding.”
Much of that has to do with what he brings to the position. While in Los Angeles, pursuing his musical career, while also balancing conventional day jobs, he discovered the Japanese martial art aikido at the renowned Tenshin Dojo.
“Ai” means harmony, “ki” means spirit or energy, and “do” means path or way. He’s been practicing aikido for a quarter of a century and incorporates that philosophy into his work.
“It’s about a path to spiritual harmony, and it starts with the self,” he said. “You find good things that are healthy and positive and then you extend that positive energy to others and help them on their path. Everyone is unique and their needs vary.
“(At Michigan Medicine), there are thousands of different paths and thousands of different people, and I embrace the challenge of helping each of them in the way they need to be helped. I’m very honored and humbled.”
Born and raised in Michigan, Chalogianis picked up the drums at the age of 12, starting with Greek music, and then moving into progressive rock, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and polyrhythmic music.
After performing in bands throughout high school and college, and receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from U-M in 1991, his band at the time ventured west with the primary goal of “making it big.”
As bands tend to do when dreams are not realized, the members went their separate ways, Chalogianis choosing to come home to Michigan and launch his law enforcement career and calling.
“I was drawn to something deeper, and it was to use my mental, physical and spiritual skills to help others,” he said. “I still love the music.”
And although the Los Angeles chapter of his life is closed, his performing days are far from over. In 2014, a band called Oneiro — Greek for “dream” — saw some videos of him playing and knew he had played Greek music in Detroit years ago. They called to recruit him, and the four-member band now plays gigs all around the country.
“It’s traditional Greek music with a very modern sound,” Chalogianis said. “It’s very positive music, usually in a festival setting. We celebrate life and culture and each other. It’s very welcoming.”
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The same could be said for the Michigan Medicine community with regard to his new position, which was created after Chalogianis and Brian Uridge, Michigan Medicine Security director, discussed the multiple layers of security DPSS promotes and the importance of community outreach and building strong bonds.
There was a service Chalogianis could provide Michigan Medicine, and the fit has been mutually beneficial with more to come.
“There is a continual opportunity to help others, opportunities for succession planning; to teach others to fill these roles and to provide safety training and emergency planning strategies to individuals and groups in order to achieve their next level, whatever that may be,” he said.
“Whatever customer service is required, whether it’s law enforcement, security, problem-solving or simply listening to patients and their families, I love extending the positive energy and sharing with others, so they have the best possible experience and move forward on their paths.”