Brazilians recognize name of ‘Moroni’

Although the name "Moroni" is unusual in Brazil, it is becoming known in the northern Brazilian state of Ceara as it inspires confidence in law enforcement.

The name belongs to Moroni Bing Torgan, president of the Brazil Fortaleza Stake. In 1987 he was appointed state Secretary of Public Security, the nation's youngest at age 31. He is also the highest LDS government official in Brazil.Torgan's unusual name was unknown when he was appointed by the governor in 1987 to be responsible for all the police work in the state with its 5.2 million population. But he has since earned both renown and respect by the seriousness with which he wages war against crime.

"This is the most difficult responsibility I have ever had," he readily acknowledged. "We have great challenges ahead of us in law enforcement."

A fourth-generation Latter-day Saint, he is not modest about his membership, which surfaces frequently in his high-profile post.

"In the hours when he is not fighting crime," reported one periodical, "he is likely to be home reading the scriptures." He and his wife, Rosa Caldas Torgan, also enjoy spending time with their sons, Mosiah and Jared.

He also acknowledges that his upbringing has influenced him in many ways. "When I was a child, we did many things as a family," he said. "When religion is involved, the way it is involved is very important. My mother and father studied with me each evening."

Descended from Italian, Austrian, Romanian and Scandinavian ancestors, Torgan is the son of Joao and Wilma Bing Torgan. Four members of his mother's family were stalwarts of the Church in Fortaleza, and were members when the first branch was organized in 1938.

Young Moroni attended Protestant and Catholic schools and placed high academically. As a youth, he was on the national championship volleyball team, and later served in the Brazil Sao Paulo North Mission. After graduating from law school, he ranked third among all the attorneys in the state. He graduated in 1982 from the Federal University of South Rio Grande.

He served for a year each as bishop and high councilor, and was counselor to the stake president for three years before being called as stake president in 1985 at age 29.

But if felons hope that religion has made the police director soft, they are mistaken. When a man wanted in the killings of more than 30 people was spotted recently, Torgan personally headed a giant manhunt of 80 officers that tracked down and captured the suspected killer.

Torgan received his appointment after he helped significantly reduce drug traffic while he was a federal officer. He estimated that half of all the drugs brought into the state are apprehended by the police.

Yet, he admits, the challenges facing police today continue to increase.

"I am sad that I am not better," he said. "But my philosophy of life is that I want to be better tomorrow than I am today, and that I am better today than I was yesterday."