Editorial: Martin’s death again reminds citizens how dangerous policing is

Tom Kennedy

IT’S STILL VERY SAD TO SAY THAT IT TAKES the line-of-duty death of a brave police officer to remind citizens that officers put their lives on the line for them every day and every night.

Through the sadness and tears in the wake of the death of Officer Richard Martin – the 113th officer to offer the ultimate sacrifice for Houstonians – we can take solace in the fact that honest, law-abiding citizens are reawakened when reminded of these all-too-routine sacrifices. Martin’s death comes after nearly four years since Officer Kevin Will’s death on a freeway when struck by a speeding motorist.

Martin chose HPD as his second career after serving as a supervisor in a warehouse for 20 years and deciding that he always wanted to become a police officer and he was going to give it a try. He soon got the reputation for working hard, remaining gracious in his interactions with others and actually being chosen as a field training officer after just several years of experience on patrol.

Houstonians turned out by the hundreds for Martin’s memorial service. According to Assistant Chief Charlie Vasquez’ first-person account of the HPD procession to Norman, Oklahoma, where Martin was permanently laid to rest in a nearby cemetery, the special process included police escorts along most of the route. The meaningful gestures by policing agencies from Conroe to Norman got the attention of grateful citizens who doffed their hats and voiced their prayers for law enforcement officers.

It’s sad that we had to lose the life of one of our own to once again emphasize the important of the job and the dedication and bravery necessary to perform it.

Police Chief Charles “Chuck” McClelland knows situations like this better than most and he put it wisely when he told the news media: “Police officers across the nation are catching so much grief and criticism right now and nobody tells them that they’re doing a good job. People like Officer Martin going out here every single day and night and risking their life.”

McClelland said he wanted the community to be more vocal than the critics and hopes that through this tragedy his officers get the recognition they deserve. No one underscores this better than one-time HPD chaplain and current Bishop Floyd Lewis, who continues to describe police officers as “soldiers in the war against domestic terrorists.”

We’ll say it one more time and keep on saying it: It’s dangerous out there every time a shift starts. It would be nice if it didn’t take another incident like the one that took the life of Richard Martin for taxpayers to realize just how dangerous it gets on a regular basis.