Outgoing sheriff: “Summit County will be taken care of”
Former Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez got a heartfelt sendoff from friends, family and colleagues at the Summit County Council meeting Wednesday.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office hosted a gathering Wednesday to honor its chief of nine years.
“Every person that was there today, I was there, because Justin makes you feel like you have an individual relationship with him and it's special,” said Capt. Kacey Bates, who’s served with Sheriff Justin Martinez for two decades. “Every person feels special with Justin.”
That certainly seemed to be the case, as county staff, councilmembers, attorneys, sheriff’s deputies, everyone went around the room sharing a few words about what Sheriff Martinez has meant to them.
Most mentioned leadership, and many brought up fishing.
The proclamation Bates read in Martinez’s honor said the former sheriff rarely had time to catch anything after he “gives a lesson on how to fish, critiques your fishing, tells you where to cast, ties your flies for you, and rows.”
Kim Carson, who served on the county council and now chairs High Valley Transit’s Board of Trustees, fondly remembers fishing with Martinez.
She also thanked his wife, Holly, who took plenty of photos and video at the meeting.
“There is a good woman behind every good man, and vice versa,” Carson said.
The current county council thanked Martinez, too. Councilmember Chris Robinson said the Summit County Sheriff’s Department has avoided controversy under Martinez’s leadership.
“We get complaints about the most remarkable things from all over the county,” Council Chair Roger Armstrong told Martinez. “One thing that I have never received in the time that I've had on the council is a complaint about you or members of the sheriff's department.”
Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson said the relationship between her office and Martinez’s was a gift.
“It's not a given that you would have a productive professional working relationship between those two offices,” she said.
One of the things Martinez said he was most proud of is the low rate of recidivism in Summit County’s drug court and the 24/7 Program, which gives DUI offenders a path to regain their drivers’ licenses. Martinez says, so far, that program has a 100% success rate.
He’s also leaving the sheriff’s office fully staffed.
“There is not a single law enforcement agency that I'm aware of in the state that is fully staffed, including dispatchers,” he said.
And that was without a budget for recruitment. Martinez says it’s all been word of mouth and a product of the culture built ground-up by the staff.
“You are supported; you are going to be in an environment where you're going to be able to do law enforcement and you're going to be allowed to be a good cop,” he said. “And we take nothing but.”
It gives him a confidence that might help ease the hard goodbyes.
“I believe that my departure, although sad, as sad as it's going to be, I feel that Summit County will be taken care of," Martinez said.
Chief Deputy Frank Smith has taken over as acting sheriff. The Summit County Democratic Party has until July 21 to name an official interim replacement.