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‘Bigger and better’ community outreach focus of new Granite Shoals police chief

Granite Shoals Police Chief John Ortis

Granite Shoals Police Chief John Ortis at the police department on Phillips Ranch Road. Ortis was officially sworn in to his new position on Aug. 30 after his friend and former Chief Gary Boshears accepted the top spot in Lago Vista. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

John Ortis was officially sworn in as Granite Shoals police chief during a special meeting of the City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Ortis was appointed by Interim City Manager Peggy Smith on Aug. 19 after former Chief Gary Boshears accepted the position of police chief in Lago Vista on Aug. 4

Ortis has been with the Granite Shoals Police Department since 2011. He was promoted to sergeant in 2018 and promoted again to captain in 2021 before being named chief.

Prior to Granite Shoals, Ortis worked with the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office as a jailer and lieutenant in corrections, was a military police officer in the U.S. Army, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Outside of service, Ortis worked as a cowboy on ranches in Arizona and Colorado before taking a job as a ranch foreman in Llano County. He was also on a pit crew for Glanville Motorsports in his home state of Georgia.

Ortis plans to continue and expand upon the work of predecessor Boshears by focusing on community outreach and training.

“When I started in Granite Shoals, if somebody saw my patrol car, they’d run from me,” Ortis said. “That bothered me. Things shouldn’t be that way.”

According to Ortis, the department has spent years building relationships with the community and establishing working partnerships with other Granite Shoals city departments and surrounding law enforcement agencies, including the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office and the Marble Falls Police Department.

“I realize it’s an 80-20 world — there’s 20 percent of people that I am never going to be able to please, and that’s OK, but I am going to do everything I can,” Ortis said.

One of the first items on his to-do list is to replace himself with a patrol officer instead of a new captain so he will have an extra person on the street.

Ortis is married to Granite Shoals City Councilor Samantha Ortis, who has served on the council since February 2021. According to the chief, his wife will abstain from council votes concerning the police department. 

While the council votes on policy that affects both the police budget and the ordinances they have to enforce, the position reports directly to the city manager, not the council.

“(Peggy) and I have worked together since I first started here,” said Ortis, referring to Interim City Manager Peggy Smith.

Smith was the Granite Shoals assistant city manager for over nine years before being appointed interim city manager in June. 

“We strive here on training, and we are going to continue to do that,” Ortis said. “Our public outreach and our community outreach, my goal is to make it bigger and better every year.”