Arizona’s Heart & Sol: Former Sergeant goes above and beyond the call of duty to help her community

Updated: Mar. 18, 2021 at 7:03 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Every week KOLD News 13 teams up with Casino Del Sol, rewarding people who are making a difference in our community.

This week we share the story of a former sergeant of 19 years and how she now goes above and beyond the call of duty to help her community amid the pandemic.

Tucson Native, Michelle Johnson-Ochoa, joined the line of duty at the Department of Corrections in the 90′s, after she jumped to work at the Pima County Jail, and then to the Marana Police Department in 2002, and then in 2008 she made her last jump to the Sahuarita Police Department, where she was promoted to Sergaent in 2016. A dream she fulfilled for almost two decades.

However, in 2018 Michelle was faced with a challenge that would change her life.

“I started having some back issues, I had idiopathic scoliosis at 11-years-old and a fuse, that never really stopped me,” she said. “My disk started to degenerate. I ended up getting diagnosed. I’m pretty fused from my neck down, so that cut my career short.”

It was then Michelle had to tuck her badge of honor away as she had to seek medical retirement. In all, it took Michelle three years to heal from the surgeries, and then COVID-19 hit.

However, that did not stop her from having the desire to serve her community. She went above and beyond the line of duty to help the ones she loves.

“I can’t do much because of this fusion, but I find the things that I can do like help my mother with the computer, how to order her groceries online, how to maneuver around amazon, how to work her cellphone,” Michelle said.

Michelle even helped her neighbors navigate the internet to get them a vaccine appointment. All little things that made a big difference. “It gets really touching because I love my parents. They took care of me when I was little, they were great parents and this my time to help them out,” She said.

And because of Michelle’s dedication to helping others in Tucson, she was nominated for this weeks Heart & Sol by her mother. A reward of $300. But of course Michelle’s heart and sol tells her to pay it forward to others.

“I want to donate it to the Tucson food bank. I love the work they’re doing right now and I love that the national guard is there,” she mentions.

Thanks to our sponsor Casino Del Sol for making this possible. If you have someone you think embodies the “Heart & Sol of Tucson,” please nominate them on our website at

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