Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy Luis Gerardo “Jerry” Ortiz, a 15-year officer who was killed in the line of duty in June, will continue to have a presence in the department, as a new sheriff’s search-and-rescue boat bearing his name patrols the waters of the Marina.
The county Sheriff’s Department Marina del Rey Station has dedicated its newest rescue vessel, the J. Ortiz, in honor of the slain deputy.
Sheriff’s department officials, including Sheriff Leroy D. Baca and Marina Station Captain Mary Campbell, joined Ortiz family members to christen the new vessel Tuesday, November 8th, at the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station dock.
Baca described Ortiz as a deputy who was totally dedicated to his work and made a “huge” difference in the department.
“He had a great passion for public safety,” Baca said. “He never saw a job as being too big or a responsibility being too small.
“In our profession it is understood that in any given moment you may have to give up your life, and Jerry Ortiz did.”
Ortiz, 35, was a deputy assigned to the Sheriff’s Department Operation Safe Streets Bureau, a countywide gang task force.
He was investigating a shooting incident in the Hawaiian Gardens community June 24th, when a suspect in the shooting, an alleged gang member, appeared without warning and shot and killed Ortiz, Sheriff’s officials charge.
“He thought he could save lives by going after the worst of the worst, and it was under those circumstances that he lost his life,” Baca said.
The shooting suspect was arrested later the same day and is currently being held without bail.
Ortiz is survived by his wife, Chela, and two sons, Jeremy and Jacob.
Chela Ortiz was in attendance at the patrol boat christening, with Ortiz’s mother, Rosa, and brother, Mike.
Rosa and Mike Ortiz said it was an “honor” to have the new Sheriff’s patrol boat dedicated in the memory of Jerry.
“It will stay forever,” Rosa Ortiz said.
Mike Ortiz said his brother deserved the honor because law enforcement service “meant everything to him.”
“He loved his job,” Mike Ortiz said.
Baca said the J. Ortiz is the first Sheriff’s Department patrol boat to be named after a fallen deputy.
The J. Ortiz is fully equipped for law enforcement, search-and-rescue efforts and firefighting capabilities.
The mission of the J. Ortiz is to provide the Sheriff’s Marina Station Harbor Patrol a quick response vessel for all marine emergencies, Sheriff’s officials said.
The search-and-rescue vessel is an all-aluminum jet-powered catamaran that is designed to provide rapid response to the county maritime region, officials said.
Typical calls for service for the harbor patrol include enforcement stops for boating law or safety violations and open water rescue and medical emergencies.
Marina Sheriff’s Station Lt. Greg Nelson said the J. Ortiz will enable the patrol to respond swiftly to open water emergencies.
The “cutting edge” vessel has four times the range of the present patrol boats and greater speed, with a top speed of over 35 knots, he said.
Other benefits of the patrol boat are that it is “extremely maneuverable,” can operate in very shallow waters and can tow much larger vessels, he said.
While Marina Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol is among the first responders to incidents such as airplane crashes and boat fires, the J. Ortiz will also be used as a dive platform for underwater rescues and recoveries.
Campbell said Marina Station officials decided to name their newest vessel, which will help them save lives, in honor of Ortiz, who “willingly risked his life” each day on the job.
When Ortiz first began his service with the sheriff’s department he was a “man of hope and great skill and someone who really knew that he could make a difference,” Baca said.
The department may have lost one of its most dedicated deputies in Ortiz, but it will now be able to continue saving lives in his name with the J. Ortiz, Baca said.
“Today is a day for us to feel good because Jerry Ortiz is back on patrol,” Baca said.