Latino Leaders: Colorado police sergeant talks community involvement, Hispanic pride and hopes for Pueblo

Colorado sergeant talks involvement, pride and hopes for Pueblo
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 3:55 PM MDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2022 at 5:57 AM MDT
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PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - Keep driving south on I-25 from Denver and you’ll eventually get to Pueblo, a city where almost 50 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latino. It’s in that same city where you’ll find Sgt. Frank Ortega of the Pueblo Police Department patrolling the streets, like he’s been doing for the last 25 years.

“Since I’ve been with the police department, I’ve been heavily involved in the community,” said Ortega. “[I’ve] put a lot of effort and time into making connections, talking to people, helping people, and it’s good karma.”

Back in 1962, Ortega’s family immigrated to the United States from Mexico; his mother’s side from Mexico City, and his father’s from Chihuahua. It’s a background that Ortega is so proud of that, even though he was born in the U.S., he made sure his Mexican heritage was a legacy that his family would carry on.

“I’m actually a dual citizen,” Ortega. “I did that I think back in 2007 when the immigrant sentiment, you know, it wasn’t good. I decided to make myself and all my kids Mexican citizens.”

Ortega says his background and fluency in Spanish has helped him deeply connect with the community of Pueblo and be of service in a way that has become essential to support its residents.

“With my experience, with my background, I think it helps me with the perspective and a viewpoint that a lot of people don’t have,” said Ortega. “Every once in a while, we’ll have somebody that speaks Spanish that’s a suspect, still it’s serving justice. It’s helping that person understand the process.”

While reflecting on his time with the department, Ortega recalls his own upbringing and how it’s allowed him to see himself within his community and, in turn, allowed his community to feel represented within law enforcement.

“With my dad being an immigrant, my stepfather being an immigrant, I’ve seen that, I’ve done that,” said Ortega. “Working in the fields, I did that for school clothes. You just have those experiences that make you more enlightened.”

While thinking about his hopes for the future of Pueblo, Ortega believes that more minority representation in the police department would be a good place to start.

“I’m not saying they’re better cops or anything like that, I’m just saying that, for us to serve the community, we need to have perspective, we need to have experiences like the community,” said Ortega. “And when we do, we put more of our heart into the work.”

As for the present moment, Ortega only wishes to express gratitude to the community that’s made him feel like he’s part of a family.

“I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad I work in this police department. I’m glad I’m a resource.”

KKTV 11 News reached out to Ortega after he was one of five veterans recognized at this year’s Latino Veterans Profiles in Courage Awards Ceremony.