It is rare when words escape me, when everything you want to say seems inadequate and falls short of the mark. But, that is the very predicament in which I find myself now as I attempt to bid farewell to POA vice president Kevin Martin.
As most of you know by now, Kevin will be retiring effective November 1st.
As I think about what he has meant to me personally, and more importantly to the membership as a whole, it is impossible to express the respect, admiration, and love I feel for this man who I will always consider my brother.
When I took over as POA president, I needed to bring a couple of people onto the Executive Board and Kevin was my first pick. While I knew his reputation as a great cop and unwavering supporter of his fellow officers, there is nothing that could have prepared me for the complete and total commitment that one person could make to his fellow man. I purposely used that phrase because Kevin's heart went out to far more than just police officers.
Kevin has never said no to anyone that needed him. He just does not know how. If you need him, he is there, and he will help you as much as he can and do so with a sense of grace and loyalty that will always make you feel special.
Calling him my "go to" guy would be understating his role here at 800 Bryant Street. Not only is he a resourceful guy with a network of folks in and out of the department who he can tap to solve your problems or get advice, he is also my friend, my confidante, and my ally. His loyalty is beyond mere friendship; it is steadfast and a bulwark against the constant aggravation inherent in this job.
No San Francisco police officer has ever had a better friendship with a fellow cop than I have had with Kevin Martin. The tears we shed, the laughs we shared, and the triumphs we enjoyed will never be forgotten. He is the guy you want beside you in battle; the person in whom you confide when times are tough; the friend that will never let you down. He is a moral compass, as locked into the right way as any man I have ever known. When a tough issue would devolve into a crisis, Kevin would come into my office and ask, "Well, what's the right thing to do here?" That is what we always tried to do; the right thing.
We shared our grief and cried together following the murders of Isaac, Nick, and Brian. We spent too many days and nights at MEH together, consoling family and friends of injured officers. Many others have died away from the job and we have grieved as well at their passing. Whether it was setting up hospital visits at the Children’s Hospital at UCSF, or cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the parents of those ailing children, Kevin was always there. His commitment to the CIRT team, BALEAF, and the Behavioral Science unit was unconditional and unending. Everyday total commitment to the cause and to his fellow officer and his fellow man, weekends, middle of the night, it did not matter… Kevin was there and he had your back.
The gratitude this Department owes Kevin Martin can never be repaid. It is now time for him to go home to Ellen Marie and be a full time husband and father to his young daughter Gracie. His son, Patrick, obviously inherited Kevin's commitment to service as he soon starts his second tour in Afghanistan as a member of the United States Marine Corps. In another time and another place Kevin could have been a Catholic priest (His younger brother, Tom Martin, has taken that path and is a respected member of the SFPD Chaplain Corps.) Thank God he chose our profession instead.
I’ll survive; we’ll survive. All leadership eventually passes on to the next bunch of folks, be they experienced or not. I suppose that anyone can be replaced, but few can ever be replicated, and fewer still are those men or women who move up in this organization who will match the compassion, empathy and dedication exemplified by Kevin Martin, although all should aspire to such heights of character and distinction.
Live a long life my brother, and be well. The SFPD will never be the same.