Born in El Salvador and raised in Miami, Luis Ortiz felt something different in Kansas City.
“I moved here in October and it was already cold,” Ortiz recalled. “When I started the academy in January and we ran out, I almost quit!”
Not really. He would never do that. Not after knowing at age 7 that he would be committed to helping and protecting others as a police officer. As a child, Ortiz saw firsthand the violence and abuses of El Salvador’s civil war that killed 75,000 people.
“Bad things were happening to our community and I wanted to make things right,” Ortiz said. “I didn’t want the same things to continue.”
When he moved to Miami at age 13, Ortiz started working on his goal. In his teens, he trained in martial arts and trained regularly, aiming to be in top form. As an adult, he found the Kansas City Missouri Police Department, in part, due to his reputation.
Ortiz studied the departments, learning that the KCPD was one of the most respected departments in the country. He wanted to be part of the professionalism that he offered. Ortiz joined the KCPD in 2000, serving a variety of assignments that included nearly a decade in the Street Narcotics Unit and Gang Squad. There, he helped recover huge amounts of drugs, illegal money and weapons.
This experience will serve him well as the new deputy head of the detective bureau. The professionalism he stuck to, he relies on, will help the FBI solve more cases.
“The more we can demonstrate that we are genuine in our dealings with the community, they (the community) will see it. More people will provide us with information and cooperate with our investigations.”
By reaching the rank of Deputy Chief, the past and present come to light for Ortiz. The childhood memories of him still give him the motivation to serve the public even decades later.
“I wanted to help those people who didn’t have a voice or the means to stand up for themselves, to hold those responsible accountable,” Ortiz said. “In this position, I can ensure that our people treat people with the same respect and professionalism that everyone deserves.”
Ortiz became only the second Hispanic to rise to the position of deputy chief in the KCPD’s 148-year history. He is proud, though quick to acknowledge a broad support system that includes his wife and her children.
“It’s humbling because as a Hispanic person, I know the obstacles and challenges we face to get here,” Ortiz said. “I know I didn’t get here alone. I am proud of this organization for how we help each other. I’m an example of that.”