Born in El Salvador and raised in Miami, Luis Ortiz felt something different in Kansas City.
“I moved here in October and that was already cold,” Ortiz recalled. “When I started the academy in January and we ran outside, I almost quit!”
Not really. He would never. Not after knowing at 7 years old he would commit himself to helping and protecting others as a police officer. As a child, Ortiz saw firsthand the violence and abuse of El Salvador’s civil war that killed 75,000 people.
“There were bad things 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 began working on his goal. In his teens, he trained in martial arts and worked out regularly, aiming to be in top shape. As an adult, he found the Kansas City Missouri Police Department, in part, because of its reputation.
Ortiz researched departments, learning that KCPD was one of the most respected departments in the country. He wanted to be a part of the professionalism it offered. Ortiz joined KCPD in 2000, working an array of assignments that included almost a decade in the Street Narcotics Unit and Gang squad. There, he helped recover massive amounts of drugs, illegal money, and weapons.
This experience will serve him well as the newly appointed Deputy Chief of the Investigations Bureau. The professionalism he’s abided on, he banks, will help the bureau solve more cases.
“The more we can prove we are being genuine about relationships with the community, they’ll (the community) see it. More people will give us information and cooperate in our investigations.”
Achieving the rank of Deputy Chief, the past and present come to light for Ortiz. His childhood memories still give him motivation to serve the public even decades later.
“I wanted to be 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 our personnel treats people with the same respect and professionalism that everyone deserves.”
Ortiz became only the second Hispanic to ascend to the position of Deputy Chief in KCPD’s 148 year history. He is proud, though quick to acknowledge a large support system including his wife and children.
“It’s humbling because as a Hispanic person, I know the obstacles and challenges that we go through to get here,” Ortiz said. “I know I didn’t get here by myself. I’m proud of this organization for how we help each other. I am an example of that.”