Justin Martinez (D) – Summit County Sheriff
Justin Martinez (Democrat)
Summit County Sheriff
Question 1: What are your qualifications to run for Summit County Sheriff and why do you want to serve?
My qualifications include command-level leadership experience, military service, and a college degree in my field. I am the Captain in the Sheriff’s Office and command over 180 employees and volunteers. I am the Bureau Chief over Patrol, SWAT, Search and Rescue, Corrections, Major Crimes, Courts and Civil, Investigations, and Dispatch among other vital functions. Over my 19-year career, I have risen through the ranks of leadership and command given my performance and professionalism.
I served my country in the United States Coast Guard, initially in border jurisdiction and later as an air crewman in aviation prior to my honorable discharge. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Emergency Services Management Administration from Utah Valley University and have attended the FBI Command College.
As an experienced leader, I know how to get results, and more importantly I know you can’t get results without being willing to listen, compromise, and problem-solve.
I’m running for Sheriff because I have felt a calling to serve my entire life. "Service Above Self" is a motto that I have lived by. I am also running because I am passionate about the success and overall health of the Sheriff’s Office.
Question 2: There is a national debate about whether local law enforcement officers have become too militarized. Where do you stand on that issue and how would it affect how you run for Summit County Sheriff’s Office?
I do not believe in militarizing the Sheriff’s Office. As a proud veteran of the Coast Guard, I understand the vital need for the armed forces to be militarized. However, we are not the military, rather local peace officers. I have been asked, along with Park City Police Chief, Wade Carpenter and other SWAT Commanders and Chief Executives, to be a part of a statewide think-tank that will scrutinize the use of SWAT/military utilization. Our goal is to create a matrix to assist local law enforcement in appropriate response to threats.
As your Sheriff, I have no intention of militarizing our county. Summit County is not only a resort destination but also home to approximately 38,000 citizens. Militarized deputies should not be meeting tourists and residents at the county line. Deputies should be functioning as peace officers in the communities they serve, building relationships and cultivating good will.
Question 3: Does the Summit County Sheriff’s Office adequately reflect the diversity of the community it serves?
I am proud to have been an integral part in hiring an ethnically diverse Sheriff’s Office. Summit County attracts people from all backgrounds and ethnicities. A law enforcement office that serves the community must represent its residents. The Sheriff’s Office has deputies representing the Asian, American Indian, Latino/Hispanic, and African-American cultures.
I am also proud to say that 20 percent of our deputies are female. These women are serving in the Sheriff’s Office at various levels including patrol, first-line supervisors, and a Division Commander. We have deputies living on both sides of our county, representing the diverse values and cultures of each side. My objective is to hire the MOST qualified applicant and will always consider applicants who reside in our county prior to looking elsewhere. As your Sheriff, I will continue to support hiring practices that represent the diversity of our county.
Question 4: What are the county’s most prevalent crime problems and how would you work to overcome them?
Statistically, our most prevalent crime is theft. However, in my opinion, crimes against humanity such as domestic violence are more destructive for communities. Domestic violence can be a learned behavior and is often passed on to the next generation. Its impact leaves victims and families physically and emotionally scarred. This violent behavior has the propensity of escalating to homicide. It transcends socioeconomic status, race, religion, or culture. promoting awareness, providing public education, and encouraging open dialogue collectively, we can make a huge difference in the way this crime is perpetuated. I have witnessed this crime first-hand in my career and have felt compelled to become a part of the solution. I am a board member of the Peace House and the Summit County Domestic Violence Coalition. My work on these boards has served as a platform for my deputies to become advocates for these victims and their families.
Question 5: If elected, what specific changes would you like to make in how the SCSO is managed?
As Sheriff, I want to be an instrument of change by bringing a more holistic approach to law enforcement. Holistic law enforcement is more than community-oriented policing. It can be described as utilizing a cerebral approach to a situation. I will empower my deputies to use discretion with the ultimate goal of being approachable, thoughtful, helpful, and human. I am very aware of how the current Sheriff has commanded this office. I do not share his black-and-white views on policing our county. I have utilized a holistic approach throughout my entire career and I have seen the positive impact it has had with the people I have served. However, don’t mistake kindness with weakness, as I will relentlessly pursue the criminal element to keep our county safe. But the day-to-day interactions my deputies have with our citizens will be approachable, diplomatic and respectful.
Question 6: Please differentiate your platform from your opponent’s.
My opponent has no formal education and has not held an executive-level leadership role in law enforcement. He has remained stagnant in his career and is now a line officer with a campus police department in Utah County. He boasts that he is a POST instructor but this can be achieved by simply attending a four-day course. He does not have the qualifications or experience to run an executive level office, especially one so intricate, sophisticated and complex as a Sheriff’s Office.
By comparison, I have a college degree from a field that fits innately within law enforcement command and service, served my country in the U.S. Coast Guard, attended the FBI Command College, and serve as the Bureau Chief for the entire Sheriff’s Office.
Due to my proven track record of diplomacy, leadership, critical thinking and approachability, I have earned the support of all of the county mayors, the majority of the county council members, and over half of the current deputies, many of whom have worked alongside my opponent.
We cannot risk backwards progression with candidate who lacks an executive law enforcement background, has no education, and is inexperienced in leading a high-level office. I’d appreciate your vote!
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The Summit County unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, the state Department of Workforce Services reported.