2003-11-21 / Community

APO Fortis Wins Accolades From 101 Precinct

Contributing Editor
By Miriam Rosenberg
APO Fortis Wins Accolades From 101 Precinct By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

Fortis, who has been an auxiliary police officer for 20 years, was honored recently by the 101 Precinct.Fortis, who has been an auxiliary police officer for 20 years, was honored recently by the 101 Precinct.

These days, people are lucky to find a job that they, not only, love to do but would continue doing even if they weren’t being paid for it. José Fortis is one of those lucky few. He is an auxiliary police officer at the 101 Precinct.

Although he receives no pay, the rewards he gets comes from working with his colleagues at the 101 and the community. The auxiliary police are so much a part of his life that on October 21 he celebrated 20 years on the job when he was honored at One Police Plaza.

"I joined in 1983. I was about 17 years old," said Fortis, who works for the MTA Long Island Bus Company when he isn’t at the 101. "I’m 37, going on 38 now. I could have been a police officer, but I chose otherwise."

The decision that Fortis made to become an auxiliary police officer suits him very well. His duties in the job include patrolling the vast area that the precinct covers – from Beach 4th to Beach 59th Streets – via vehicle or bike.

Detective Willie Olmeda, the Com­munity Affairs Officer for the 101 Precinct, congratulates Fortis.Detective Willie Olmeda, the Com­munity Affairs Officer for the 101 Precinct, congratulates Fortis.

"The regular auxiliary officers go on bike patrol anywhere around," explained Fortis. "That’s very good. It’s good for me, and it’s good for the community. A lot of people like that."

Patrolling the streets of the Rockaways are not the only duties that Fortis must carry out as an auxiliary police officer. Auxiliary officers, just as police officers, sometimes find they have to put their own safety on the line as they carry out their job. Sometimes, like police officers, auxiliary officers find themselves jumping into action when they are off duty.

For Fortis, one such incident occurred almost 15 years ago when a trip to the movies found him putting his life on the line for another police officer.

"I was off duty, and I remember there was a fight at the Green Acres Cinemax – where the movie theater is there. There was a big fight between 16 big guys [and] one police officer," recalled Fortis. "I still remember his name. Officer Green. Badge number 330. I saw that they attacked him to take his revolver out of his holster."

Fortis punched one of the guys in the head and was able to knock him out long enough to pull the police officer out of the mob. He then proceeded to use the officer’s radio to call in that an officer was down.

His actions earned him the thanks of the members of the Nassau County Police Force.

"All the police officers in Nassau County shook my hand. [They] took my name down. They wanted to make a big deal out of it. I didn’t. I said I only did what I had to do."

Fortis continues to do what he has to do every time he puts on the auxiliary uniform. That includes fostering a good relationship with the community. It isn’t hard, considering that he loves connecting with the community and he has become a well-known face in the Rockaway area.

"They always say, ‘Hey Fortis, how are you doing?’ Even off duty. They know me in and out of uniform. I’m very good with people."

Some of his other memorable moments occurred just after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

"People were thanking auxiliary officers for helping out after 9/11. Everybody was shaking my hand."

At the age of nine, Fortis’ family moved to Far Rockaway. He lived in the area until eight years ago when he moved to Woodhaven.

He has three children – a daughter, a son and a stepson.

"My little son loves what I am doing. I tell him when he grows up he can become a police officer."

Fortis has nothing but praise and kind words for his colleagues and the work environment at the 101 Precinct.

"I’m always in this precinct," said Fortis. I will not go to any other precinct."

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