■ Kyle Selby / Reporter
Two new officers, Gerardo Ortiz and Juan Sanchez, were welcomed to the Hemet Police Department last Thursday morning, Oct. 5, in the Hemet City Council Chambers.
“Officer Juan Sanchez is the son of first generation Mexican immigrants. He grew up in the Irvine area, and both of his parents were farm workers on the Irvine Ranch, where he learned his outstanding work ethic,” said Hemet Police Chief Dave Brown. “Sanchez put himself through the Orange County Reserve Academy, and was later hired by the Los Angeles Police Department where he spent the next 30 years serving the citizens of Los Angeles. In that 30 years, Officer Sanchez literally held every assignment in the department, and recently retired as [an LAPD] sergeant. Although he’s eligible to retire and lie around and vacation and those kinds of things, he shared with me that this is what he knows – wearing the blue uniform and serving his community. So as a local resident, he has decided to continue his service with our department; he sought us out and decided this is where he wanted to serve his next season in his career.
“He shared with me earlier that his passion is wearing the uniform and working on the streets,” continued Brown. “While he has had the opportunity in his career to promote higher than the level of sergeant and work on assignments that are less stressful and less strenuous, he’s always chosen to come back into the patrol division.”
Officer Sanchez’s family is no stranger to public service, either. His daughter, Jacqueline, is a deputy sheriff at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Andrew, his son, is an emergency medical technician at the emergency room at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, and daughter Catherine is a teacher’s assistant and therapist for disabled children.
Brown also had some choice words to welcome Officer Jerry Ortiz, who came to HPD by way of San Diego Police Department.
“Gerardo ‘Jerry’ Ortiz, is also the son of first generation Mexican immigrants. Jose and Maria raised him to be a man of great work ethic, and of service to his country. He graduated Chaparral High School in Temecula in 2005, and immediately enlisted in the United States Marine Corps,” said Brown. “He spent eight years serving our country in the Marine Corps, which included combat tours of Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After his honorable discharge in 2013, Officer Ortiz was recruited by the San Diego Police Department and was hired in 2014 where he spent his last three years serving. In San Diego, he’s worked patrol, several undercover assignments (probably because of his youthful appearance) and he’s also been trained as a bike patrol officer. He worked most recently on their psychiatric emergency response team, very similar to our crisis intervention team here in Hemet, so those skills will be put to work immediately.”
After swearing in, Officer Sanchez’s girlfriend, Deanna, pinned his badge onto his uniform, while Officer Ortiz’ wife, Dolce, and daughter, Millie, pinned his.
“The badge is issued and authorized by the Chief of Police to be worn over the heart as a constant reminder of the oath that we take and the enormous responsibility that comes with it,” said Brown. “It is my honor today to swear in both Officer Ortiz and Officer Sanchez.”
Ortiz and Sanchez were definitely feeling the love Thursday morning. The offices of Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez and Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., provided each of them with certificates of formal recognition, the local businesses apart of the Hemet/San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce put together welcome gift baskets for each of them and their families, and Chief Brown presented each with an official Hemet Police Department Challenge Coin.
Welcome to Hemet Officer Ortiz and Officer Sanchez, and be safe!