When we think of police work, the mind immediately goes to law enforcement.
The speeding ticket, the drug bust, the robbery investigation.
But as first responders to all kinds of emergencies, a police officer who knows how to think outside the law book may be the difference between life and death for someone suffering a medical emergency.
Our 2016 Clayton Police Officer of the Year, Erick Martinez, showed that kind of lifesaving judgement on two occasions.
Most recently, Martinez stopped to check on a car that had driven off the road and crashed. As a police officer, it would have been natural to suspect the driver was intoxicated and move forward with a criminal investigation.
Instead, Martinez recognized the symptoms of a diabetic coma – which can look very similar to the behavior of an intoxicated person – and he called EMS to the scene instead of reaching for his breathalyzer.
On another occasion, Martinez noticed a car parked on the side of the road and stopped to investigate. In talking to the driver, Martinez became concerned for the motorist’s health and called for medical backup. The driver turned out to be having a heart attack and may have died if Martinez had not stopped and responded so quickly.
Martinez has also been nominated for the Lifesaving Award for both of these acts, Chief Wayne Bridges said, and we’re waiting for the awards board to vote to see if he wins.
“Both of the cases were the result of good policing and a conscientious approach to his job,” Chief Bridges said. “These qualities are displayed by Officer Martinez every day. He constantly exemplifies the qualities most often associated with the best of our profession.”
Clayton’s American Legion Post 71 also recently recognized Martinez as its Officer of the Year.
Martinez grew up in Clayton, and he’s proudly protected his hometown on with the Clayton Police Department since 2015.
Born in Anaheim, California, Martinez moved with his family to Clayton as a child and came up through Cooper Elementary, Riverwood Middle School and Clayton High School. He graduated from Johnston County Community College's Basic Law Enforcement Training Course.
Martinez took the oath to join the Clayton Police Department in June 2015.
What appealed to him about police work?
“It's the ever-challenging and the ever-evolving environment that an officer works in,” Martinez said at the time of his swearing-in.
“I take pride in giving back to the community I live in.”