Hundreds of dignitaries, law enforcement officers and residents packed the Rochester Riverside Convention Center Friday to honor Rochester Police officer Manny Ortiz.
Investigators say Ortiz was driving to work last Saturday when he accidentally shot himself in the leg with his own weapon. The bullet hit an artery and he died shortly after.
Among those who eulogized Ortiz was Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary. Singletary said Ortiz was a “cop’s cop” and the example of what a police officer should be and the department will honor him by giving out a community service award in his name.
“To Manny’s family we thank you for allowing Manny to serve us and with us for the last 22 years. If I could clone Manny and place him throughout the department I would and no one would object,” said Singletary. ``The Manuel "Manny" Ortiz Community Policing 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 for one day, but every day."
Singletary said the award will go to someone who puts service over self, because that's what Oritz was and will always be. Through the award, Singlatary says, Ortiz's legacy of love, service and respect will forever be remembered in the Rochester Police Department.
Sergeant Henry Rivera started his career with Ortiz. He couldn’t hold back tears while describing his relationship with his friend.
“We lost him physically but he’s not truly lost because lost are those who are forgotten and Manny will never be forgotten.”
His daughter Solangee McNeal said her father was very approachable, even for people who may have reason not to be.
``Everytime we went anywhere folks would come up, but sometimes folks would come up and be so happy to see him...hey Manny, hand slaps, you know,” said McNeal. “They would talk and talk and talk, then part ways. Dad, how'd you know that guy? I arrested him. What? "
McNeal told the audience her father had to take the Civil Service exam numerous times to join the police department. She said every time you get knocked down physically or emotionally, and you get back up, her father is there with you.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren also eulogized the officer, calling Ortiz's presence "bigger than life," and his departure has left a tremendous void. She said he was one of those rare human beings who brought joy to your life by his presence alone.
``His smile was literally infectious. When you saw it, you could not help but smile yourself," said Warren.
Warren says his legacy will live on forever in the officers he worked with and trained, the community that he served, and the family that he left behind. Warren says his smile will always be with us. Warren gave Ortiz’s family the highest honor a Rochestarian can get a key to the city.