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Tuesday, September 19, 2017





Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Spokesman Retires After 46-Year History with the Department; Fortunato Will Run for Sheriff


HARVEY, LA. – Jefferson Parish Sheriff's spokesman John Fortunato, who rose through the ranks from cadet to Colonel, retired today, ending a 46-year history with the department and confirmed his decision to run for sheriff.   


Said Fortunato, “Leading this department and protecting this parish against crime has been a lifelong dream. I just don’t believe that we have to accept a politician’s hand-picked candidate to serve as sheriff.  Having worked so closely with Sheriff Harry Lee, I know how safe this parish can be and how strong this department can stand against crime.  I am eager to offer my plans to put criminals where they belong.”  Fortunato will formally announce his candidacy on Friday, October 27th.


In 1971, Fortunato began his career as a cadet with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office under Sheriff Alwynn Cronvich. He worked full-time in the Criminal Records Division while attending Loyola University at night. In early 1972, Fortunato entered the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Training Academy.  A member of Recruit Class #8, he graduated and began his assignment with the First District Patrol Division. In 1974, Fortunato was promoted to detective, where he investigated burglaries in the Crimes Against Property division.


In the fall of 1977, while responding to a stolen property complaint, Detective Fortunato was shot and seriously wounded in the line of duty. The Purple Heart on his uniform serves as persistent memory of that day in October.  One year later, under newly-elected Sheriff Harry Lee, Fortunato was promoted to Sergeant and named Commander of the Community Relations/Crime Prevention Unit. In 1986, he was promoted again, and as Lieutenant was entrusted to serve as the department's public information officer, a position he has held for over 30 years.  In 2000, Fortunato was promoted to Colonel, the rank he holds today.


Fortunato was a close ally of Sheriff Lee.  He was one of a handful of family members and department top brass at the Sheriff's bedside when he died at 10:44 a.m. on October 1, 2007. Fortunato planned Sheriff Lee's memorial service on behalf of the Lee family. 


A dedication to fighting crime came easily to Fortunato.  His father, three uncles and three cousins all served with the New Orleans Police Department, and another cousin is a retired U.S. Customs Agent.  While in high school, Fortunato served with the NOPD as an equipment operator in the Auto Pound.  Colonel Fortunato passed down his passion for law enforcement to his youngest son, Nicholas, who currently is assigned to the JPSO Third District Patrol Division.


Upon graduation from Redemptorist High School in 1970, Fortunato enlisted in the Louisiana Air National Guard.  He attended the U.S. Air Force Boot Camp at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX, went on to Technical School Training at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, IL and continued his military career at Belle Chasse Naval Air Station before committing to law enforcement.  Fortunato, 66, is married to former WDSU news anchor Kriss Fairbairn. In addition to Nicholas, they are parents to John Jr. and Tiffany Fortunato.  Together, they have seven grandchildren.

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