Officer Manuel Ortiz remembered: A cop’s cop, a servant of the community

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The room was packed shoulder to shoulder with law enforcement officers from Rochester, and beyond.

They started with a Posting of Colors, the National Anthem and members of the community came to speak, to pay their regards and share stories of fallen Officer Manuel “Manny” Ortiz.

The Rochester Police Department and the family of Officer Ortiz, extended an invite to the entire community to attend a memorial service in his honor at the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center on Friday. 

Ortiz, a 22-year veteran of the department, died Saturday night in what the Monroe County Sheriff and Rochester Police Chief described as a “tragic accident.”

Stories were shared of Ortiz’s positivity and determination to lift the spirits of everyone around him.

He loved to dance — often to salsa music or Michael Jackson. He loved to cook and eat and was known as a regular to the local bakeries around Rochester.

It took Ortiz several times to get on the police force, but quickly became an exemplary officer.

“If I could clone Manny and place him throughout the department, no one would object.” said Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary.

Singletary announced a new annual award that will be given called the “Rochester Police Department Manuel ‘Manny’ Ortiz Community Policing Award.”

“The award will be given annually to a police officer who exemplifies what it means to be a cop’s cop, servant of the community and one who goes above and beyond, not just one day but everyday. One who puts service over self. That’s who Manny was, that’s who Manny is and that’s who Manny always will be.”

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said Manny had a presence that was bigger than life. He chose to work nights and weekends in the bar district because that’s what put him face to face with people in Rochester.

Warren referenced the motto of the Corps of military police, United States Army and compared it to the attitude of Officer Ortiz.

“Of and for the troops. Manny was of Rochester and for the Rochester community, especially the Hispanic community.”

Ortiz’s family shared words, thanking the community for the support.

“To his brothers and sisters of the Rochester Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, County and State, you stand as one and it’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed.”

“Like my dad always said before he passed, ‘When I’m gone, make sure you’re the man of the house and take care of your mother and sister’ and dad knows that’s what I intend to do,” Ortiz’s son, Alex said.

His daughter Solangee McNeal shared stories of how approachable her father was. She shared a story of a man coming up to her and her father and saying, “Manny I thought about what you said and I’m going to be different now.”

When she asked her father who that was, he said it was someone he had previously arrested.

Ortiz explained to his daughter that the trip to booking can be pretty long so he often talked with folks he arrested.

“I talk to these folks about what happened, what made them arrive at the point they’re at, what made them get to this point when they’re riding in a police car with me. I ask them questions I wished my dad had asked me.”

Ortiz’ other daughter spoke about her father’s personality and ability to raise her spirits.

“Anyone who knew my father knew the warmth and happiness he brought with him everywhere — that’s when I knew I was home.”

Sgt. Sammie Drayton Jr. shared some stories of how supportive Ortiz was through their time working together. “When I got promoted I think he was more excited than I was.”

“If he liked you and believed in what you were trying to accomplish, he would bend over backwards to help you achieve your goals.”

In lieu of flowers the family is asking for donations to the GoFundMe set up by the Rochester Police Foundation to set up a scholarship fund for his children.

Many in the community are mourning the loss of officer Ortiz and many shared stories about the impact he made in the area:

“He was always willing to do what was asked of him, and he will always be remembered for that,” Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said Monday.

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