Saying “I Love America” is dear to the heart of reserve deputy Sarah Cortez, a four-year volunteer for the Houston-Metro Friends of NRA committee. Immediately after, Sarah eagerly adds, “I Love Being a Cop.”
Recently chosen for the Dick Tracy Hall of Fame due to her work as an author and public speaker about law enforcement, Sarah smiles and readily acknowledges that this is one of her favorite honors bestowed. All those literary awards—regional, national, and international—for her 13 books have been welcome, but Dick Tracy’s Hall of Fame is in a special league all its own.
Sarah grew up as a sixth-generation Texan from families originally from Spain who then inter-married with the peoples of early Texas: French, Comanche, Apache, and Mexican. Her father was an outdoorsman all his life in South Texas. “He always observed the strictest rules for safety. If another hunter made unsafe choices, my father packed up and went home that very moment, or he sent the other hunter packing. He made sure to track down and find, then kill, an animal that had been wounded—even if it meant that he got no more hunting done that day on an expensive lease that he'd saved money all year long to buy.”
After being introduced to police officers while a board member for a large civic association in Houston, Sarah found law enforcement calling to her. She made a radical career change from employee benefits consulting to the police academy, taking an initial 75 percent pay cut. She still says, “Becoming a cop is the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s my chance to stand up for what I believe.”
It is the intersection of civic duties and the role of the protector that has called to both sides of Sarah's family and produced generations of military and law enforcement. “Every uncle I had served in WWII, Korea, and/or Vietnam. We are a family that loves America. Even my mother worked for the U.S. State Department on the Mexico/U.S. border during WWII. I still possess her ID bracelet and recall her showing it to me as a kid. She explained that if the U.S. was attacked and she was killed, then someone could identify her charred body due to the bracelet. This was just a fact to her—she wasn't scared. I think her steady sense of love for America and its freedoms, as well as her strong faith in God, made her courageous.”
Through the guidance of Liz Foley, NRA Senior Field Representative for Texas East, Sarah has found an inspiring mix of friends who volunteer and attend Friends of NRA events. “I’ve relished meeting people across our great state of Texas. Some of the most passionate volunteers are people who grew up under Communism in Europe or Asia. These people understand what it's like to be unable to defend yourself or your beliefs. They also understand the importance of factual and accurate education about guns and respect for the shooting arts.”
Sarah’s work in policing over more than two decades has brought urgency to communicating some of the scenarios she’s seen, and written about, facing both civilians and police officers. “You have to train and train and train to make good decisions in critical moments. When things go south, they go quickly. You must have excellent training to make split-second decisions that are legal and ethical. I adore the fact that Friends of NRA fundraising helps to fund programs for populations that violent criminals love to target: the elderly, women, the disabled, and, oh Yes, police officers, too.”
Sarah’s 2019 calendar is already full of Houston-Metro Friends of NRA volunteer meetings as she joins her husband, the committee chair and retired police chief, in planning their next fundraiser. “What I love about Friends of NRA volunteers is the same thing I love about my fellow police officers—they are patriotic, law-abiding, and still believe in America. Just like me.”
In addition to volunteering for Friends of NRA, Sarah is an award-winning author and public speaker, and is often called the “cop-poet of America.” Her recent book, “Tired, Hungry, and Standing in One Spot for Twelve Hours: Essential Cop Essays,” launched Sarah’s national campaign “Saving Police Lives.” She also writes for PoliceOne.com.