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Granite Shoals Police Sgt. John Ortis is 2019 Favorite Law Enforcement Officer

Granite Shoals Police Sgt. John Ortis, an eight-year veteran of the department, says a great part of his job is getting to know the community’s children, whether as a volunteer coach or making regular lunchtime stops at Highland Lakes Elementary School. Ortis is a true public servant. It’s one of the reasons The Picayune readers and KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune listeners chose him as their Locals Love Us favorite law enforcement officer in the Marble Falls area. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Granite Shoals Police Sgt. John Ortis looks like a law enforcement officer with his cropped hair, a smattering of tattoos (he was a Marine), and stocky build. A casting agent for a film company looking for a man to play a street cop would pick Ortis.

But Ortis, like most law enforcement officers, isn’t a stereotype. In fact, after a few minutes with him, you soon realize that when he talks about being a public servant and the department’s tenets of integrity, community service, pride, and professionalism, those aren’t just words to him.

They are the underlying foundation of his daily efforts.

“I’m proud to serve and live in Granite Shoals,” Ortis said. “It’s not just me. It’s every officer in the department. We try to take every interaction we have with people and turn it into a positive experience.”

Even in some of the most challenging situations a police officer faces, Ortis said he and his fellow officers are there to help.

It’s why The Picayune readers and KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune listeners chose Ortis as their Locals Love Us favorite law enforcement officer in the Marble Falls area.

But, as Ortis tells it, he’s just part of a team in Granite Shoals that goes out every day and night to help make the community a great place to live and work.

While police interact with a wide range of people, the most important relationships, Ortis said, are the ones he and fellow officers have with the youngest residents. One of the best things about his job is spending time at Highland Lakes Elementary School in Granite Shoals. An initiative of Chief Gary Boshears is for officers to have lunch with the kids during school.

It doesn’t stop there.

Ortis carries basketballs, soccer balls, and other sports gear in his patrol vehicle. Often, when he sees some Granite Shoals youths out and about, he’ll pull over and talk with them, even handing out a ball or two.

Sometimes, Ortis picks up a ball himself.

“I’ve probably been out there a number of times playing basketball in 115 degrees. With all this on,” he said, referring to his uniform and police gear, which easily weighs 20 pounds.

If he’s out working traffic control, and a school bus passes, he’ll likely hear a chorus of kids calling out to him. Ortis’s efforts with young people extend beyond Granite Shoals.

He and his wife, Samantha, have three kids from elementary to high school. When he’s not in uniform, you’ll likely find him on a softball field. He and Austin Police Officer Jason Jewett organize a number of youth softball activities in the area.

While the Locals Love Us honor went to Ortis, he’s quick to point out the efforts of other Granite Shoals Police Department staff. He said it starts with Boshears and Capt. Chris Decker, who really emphasize the importance of being public servants. That, Ortis said, filters down into the rest of the department.

He highlighted recent honors going to two Granite Shoals officers: Christie Carter and Tim Edwards.

Carter organized and oversaw the department’s school supplies and toy drives, which earned her the John F. Ortis Community Service Award — named in honor of Ortis. Edwards responded to a call in 2018 regarding a struggling veteran who was contemplating suicide.

“Instead of simply turning the man over to EMS and being done with it, Officer Edwards really worked with the man and helped him through a rough situation,” Ortis said. “It’s was a truly life-changing action.”

The thing is, Edwards never really bragged about what he did. Boshears, Decker, and Ortis didn’t find out about his actions until the veteran came by the station to share the story.

“I’m part of a great department and community,” Ortis added. “It’s where I plan on spending my career.”

daniel@thepicayune.com

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