Ronald Martin works part-time as one of NCHRC’s Law Enforcement Safety Advocates. He is a former Detective Sergeant and is a dedicated, committed Law Enforcement Professional with over 20 years of experience.

I am a product of 20 years of law enforcement and have been responsible for hundreds of arrests. Through encounters with people from every ethnic, cultural, religious, and political group, I have had the opportunity to witness the very best in people, and unfortunately, sometimes the very worst. Through my decades of employment I have stayed focused and steadfast in my attempts to socially and tactically perform the correct actions to keep myself and those around me safe while not forgetting that I swore to serve and protect the people of my community.

There are times when personal or work related distractions may have hindered my ability to stay focused, but I realized early in my career that distractions or a lack of focus while working means someone will get hurt.  Every day that I worked, I began to understand that the most desired end result was going home safely after a tour of duty.  There are going to be a myriad of challenges, obstacles, and decisions where split second choices need to be made that could impact that end result, but nothing is more important than going home to your loved ones.

I recall an incident many years ago where on a sub-freezing night on an avenue called the Grand Concourse in Bronx, NY, I supervised the search of a man that was alleged to have seriously assaulted and robbed another man in the area.  The arrested male was homeless and was dressed in several layers of clothing in order to protect against the winter cold and to store his personal items.  Investigators working under my charge alerted me to the fact that the subject was an intravenous heroin user.  The slow process of unraveling and winding through ten layers of jackets, sweaters, thermals, plastic bags and every imaginable secret compartment that could be constructed in clothing took place over the next thirty-five minutes in 10 degree temperatures with a wind chill under zero.  We recovered the property belonging to the victim, along with 1 gravity knife, 3 glassine envelopes of heroin, nine hypodermic syringes, several razors and other glass, metallic and cutting devices that posed a threat to our immediate safety.  The time taken netted an arrest, but the true resulting benefit was that everyone went home safely that night.

Law enforcement personnel have stood at a crossroad for years, often traveling a divergent path from the communities we swore to protect.  While we maintain a hard line stance on what we legally believe to be the correct enforcement pertaining to drug paraphernalia statutes, we sometimes compromise the ability of the community to heal itself and further subject officers to greater risk. For example, because people in North Carolina can possibly be arrested for carrying syringes without a prescription, diabetics and drug users alike are thus re-using and sharing syringes, which increases the chances that any needle an officer encounters during a search might be infected with HIV or hepatitis C. It also increases the chance that a person would deny or try to hide possession of a syringe during a search, also placing the officer at greater risk. Syringe decriminalization in North Carolina would make it legal to carry a syringe with no drug residue on it and is shown to reduce the incidence of HIV and hepatitis C, as well as reduce needle-sticks to officers by 66% in communities where this legislation has been enacted.

Syringe decriminalization is only one step of many that needs to be taken so that drug users can effectively and safely confront their choices as it pertains to rehabilitation.  This is a chance to open dialogues with drug users, which leads to a further understanding and ultimately a greater sense of security for those enforcing narcotic related offenses.  I understand that all change comes with a degree of difficulty, but this is an opportunity for law enforcement personnel not to be on a divergent path with the communities they protect, but to be a part of the solution for making a constructive difference. This in turn will greatly minimize the possibility of the risks and fears associated with a needle-stick, thereby maximizing the probability that every officer goes home safely at night.
Ronald Martin

Learn more: Attend the summit on law enforcement safety and drug policy at the NC legislature on June 12th:

About Ronald Martin:
Ronald Martin works part-time as one of NCHRC’s Law Enforcement Safety Advocates. He is a former Detective Sergeant and is a dedicated, committed Law Enforcement Professional with over 20 years of experience in the New York City Police Department (NYPD). At the NYPD, he trained officers to a highly proficient level of community patrol, enforcement and public security. He supervised narcotics teams conducting street level buy and sell operations and warrant executions. Furthermore, he managed mid to high-level narcotic cases involving pen wires leading to extensive criminal prosecution. Ronald also consulted directly with the Chief of Police and the Mayor of New York City on issues of internal misconduct. He has also conducted and investigated various criminal offenses while working as a team member in conjunction with the Secret Service, DEA, ATF, and FBI.  At NCHRC, he advocates for needlestick prevention measures for officers in North Carolina and for more dialogue between drug users, sex workers and law enforcement to create a safer communities.

Event: Law Enforcement Safety & Drug Policy Summit
WHEN: June 12th, 2012
WHAT TIME IS THE EVENT: Registration starts at 8 am, and the event begins at 9 am and will go through Noon. A lunch will be served to registered guests after the summit.
WHERE: North Carolina Legislative Auditorium, 16 Jones Street, Raleigh, NC
WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Law Enforcement, Legislators, Legislative Support Staff, Public Health Officials, Lobbyists, Harm Reductionists, Drug Policy Reformers, Policy Reformers, People Who Work With Incarcerated Populations and the Substance Abuse Community
WHAT WILL BE COVERED: Law Enforcement Needlestick Reduction, Law Enforcement Safety around Drug Overdoses, Reducing Recidivism While Maintaining Public Order and Drug Policy Reform
WHO WILL BE PRESENTING: Law Enforcement Safety Experts, Law Enforcement, Drug Policy Experts and Republican & Democratic Legislators, and Conservative, Liberal & Moderate Policy Institutes
EVENT CONTACT: Robert Childs, MPH (336) 543-8050,