SAPD Dream Team Work City Streets by Day With Confidence in Each Other
“It was a hunch,” says SAPD Patrol Officer Jed Polnick. “The criminal element is around there. It’s like a little hub for criminal activity.”
Polnick and his partner Officer Louis Cortinas have been working together for almost two years. Each describes his partner as a hard worker who is willing to go the extra mile, and on Feb. 3, that extra mile paid off when the two located and arrested the Medical Arts Pharmacy burglar five minutes after leaving the scene.
“I think we felt good too because we had no clue who he was, we just knew he was in a silver Alero,” Polnick continues. “We ended up finding him just out of just doing the extra mile and trying to find the car or a car similar to that in the area. We didn’t know him, nobody recognized him, so we didn’t have nothing.”
On Feb. 3, Polnick and Cortinas received a call of a burglary at the Medical Arts Pharmacy and headed that direction to conduct an investigation. Upon arrival, it was determined that the burglar had broken in through a window, and seemed to feel comfortable in the place, arriving first around midnight, leaving, and returning again around 6:00 a.m. in a different change of clothes.
Surveillance video from the pharmacy revealed good pictures of the suspect and his vehicle, a silver 4-door Oldsmobile Alero. As soon as they’d witnessed the footage, Polnick and Cortinas headed to the hotbead of criminal activity to scan the parking lot. Having found nothing there, they relocated to another location known for high criminal traffic and spotted the car immediately.
“We see this car and I’m running it,” Polnick says, “then he (Cortinas) looks up and sees this guy walk out of the motel room, then he runs up there and gets him and it just kind of went from there. He was wearing the same clothes he had on that morning.”
Polnick said that while burglar had been denying everything about the incident, that his reactions tp questioning made his guilt evident. “He was telling us that it wasn’t him, but by the way he was acting like we knew that he knew what we knew, but he didn’t want to say anything.”
Ultimately, the suspect, 22-year-old Nickolas Jones, was arrested for burglary of a building and taken to jail. The drugs that he stole were estimated to be a $15,000 wholesale value and were typical of the types sold on the street.
“It was awesome,” Cortinas said. “I felt really good that we caught him fast. Working in the jail too, I spoke with a lot of burglars, a lot of them. They would tell me how they did it and stuff like that and I would ask them, ‘Don’t you feel bad that you’re taking from people?’ and they’re like ‘Yeah, kind of, but I need my stuff.’
“It just gets kind of frustrating when you work hard and everyone works hard for their stuff—just like the pharmacists do. They worked hard to get where they’re at now, and catching him, it felt real good. He needs to pay for what he did. He needs to suffer the consequences.”
Both Polnick and Cortinas came to San Angelo from Sheriff’s Offices in other municipalities, citing a need for a change.
Polnick grew up in Brownwood and worked at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office for five years before coming to San Angelo. “Growing up, my dad was a game warden and I just grew up watching him get ready for work, and when he would get home he would tell me about what all happened and I rode with him, it kind of just got in my blood, I guess.”
Polnick said that although he was intrigued by the work of a game warden, the winters are just too slow. He’d rather have action year round. He decided to move to San Angelo in January 2012. The reason he gave was “just the better pay than other Sheriff’s Offices. I’ve got cousins that live here, so it was just time for a change,” he said, adding, “Brownwood’s only like 30,000 people. There’s more to do and it was just time to get out of there since I grew up there.”
It wasn’t until April 2012 that Polnick’s and Cortinas’s paths would cross, but they immediately found similarities. Cortinas had been employed at the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in San Antonio where he often worked the jails, and relocated to San Angelo in need of a change.
“Like he said, change, and a smaller community [is why I chose to relocate],” Cortinas said. “I just wanted somewhere safe for my kids to grow up. Everywhere has its crime, but I thought it was going to be safer here for my kids to grow up.”
Cortinas didn’t grow up in a family of law enforcement, however he remembers feeling inspired at a young age by the officers he encountered. “As a kid, I loved it—the whole uniform presence and I fell in love watching all the police shows. When the officers would come to school too, you know, I would be so amazed by them and everything they wore. I wanted to be just like them and get behind the wheel of a police car with the lights and sirens. There’s no other job that gives me the freedom. I love being in the car, I can do what I want and help people.”
“His favorite show was CHIPs,” Polnick interjects, half joking.
“It really was,” Cortinas says, and the two erupt in laughter. It’s an inside joke.
When the officers started at the SAPD, both worked nights, Polnick on B shift and Cortinas on the later C shift. They were working the same sector and their paths crossed on multiple occasions. By the time they’d switched to days, they’d gotten to know and trust one another fairly well.
“We just kind of clicked,” Cortinas said. “Normally, there’s like four people to each sector and you just kind of learn the people. If we go to a call together I know what he’s going to do before he does it…so it’s just—it makes you feel good that you know what’s going to happen. If something goes south, then they’ll step in.”
“I guess it’s just fun because we know how we’re going to work,” Polnick adds. “His family is friends with my family, off work we hang out. We just get along good I guess. If it came to worst, he knows I would do whatever I can, and he would do whatever—it’s kind of double-sided. He would jump in front of a bullet for me and I would do it for him.”
Currently both officers are working patrol, however would like to move to Criminal Investigations, should a position become available. It’s about the follow up, they said. On patrol, an officer files the initial report but doesn’t necessarily get involved with contacting victims afterward and determining in which direction the investigation goes.
“I like patrol…I mean, it’s fun, but I want to be a detective one day,” Polnick says. “I want to be a homicide detective, but we don’t have enough [positions] here, fortunately.”
“That’s crazy—we’ve never talked about it but that’s exactly what I want to do,” Cortinas exclaims. They don’t like to leave things unfinished.
Funnily, both say that if they were competing for a job in CID, they’d likely give it to the other. “We’d just both end up working on patrol still,” Polnick laughs.
Comparing the way they work together to co-workers in other occupations, Polnick said, “I guess it’s kind of different because we know that we could go to a call together and we might leave good or one of us might not make it home. We know that no matter what happens we would be there [for each other]. I trust him for my life, and he trusts me for his.”
Both Polnick and Cortinas can be spotted around San Angelo working Sector 3 during the day. At the moment, there aren’t any open positions in CID to compete for, but they continue to put their investigative skills to work on patrol.
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