Updated: November 04, 2019 09:04 AM
Created: November 03, 2019 11:12 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Law enforcement is saying grateful goodbyes to a Rochester police officer found dead after a crash, but so are the people of a community who say he represented them.
Manuel "Manny" Ortiz, 52, was found dead in his SUV after a crash on Empire Boulevard in Penfield on Saturday night. He was a 22-year veteran with the Rochester Police Department.
People who say they knew him best are remembering his work. Those who were close to him spoke to News10NBC and shared different memories, but all said the same thing: he loved where he lived and cared about the people around him.
"It didn't matter what social class, what area you came from the in city or Monroe County, he treated everyone with respect and dignity," local businesswoman Mercedes-Vazquez Simmons said.
Fond words for a fallen friend as loved ones, like Vazquez-Simmons, continue to mourn Ortiz’s death.
"Not just always in uniform in the community, but off duty too, being involved and engaged," Rochester City School District Board member Beatriz LeBron said.
That includes his involvement in Rochester’s Latino community, as he was an active supporter of the United Way's Latino Leadership Development Program.
"He truly believed in the necessity to give back to a community that he was wholeheartedly a part of," Program Coordinator Yversha Roman said.
LeBron says Ortiz first gave a face and voice to local Latinos at a time when they say the community did not have one.
Fellow friend Jackie Ortiz said his commitment to the area and his always positive spirit made it easy for people to talk to and work with him.
"The reason everyone knows his name and how he is, and how he was, is because he was that involved in the community," Jackie Ortiz said.
That involvement rubbed off on Ortiz’s fellow first responders.
"He just got it, he just knew that you earned respect, you didn't expect it just because you put a badge and a gun on," said Monroe Ambulance paramedic Luis Aponte.
As investigators still look into how Ortiz died, friends say his legacy will continue to live on because of his dedication to the people around him.
"Manny made everybody feel like a family member," Aponte said.
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