Stacey-Ann Martin followed in her father's footsteps to join the police service and after 15 years on the job, she has no regrets.
Martin is assigned to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) based in Aranguez and routinely goes on on patrols with soldiers in some of the country's toughest crime hotspots.
On Christmas Day, she was the lone female officer to receive an award for outstanding work.
Martin said when she heard her name called on to receive an award, it took a few seconds to register.
She proudly walked up to acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Erla Christopher collected her award for outstanding performance and dedication and shed a tear or two of happiness and pride.
“I felt a mix of emotions. I was definitely shocked that I received an award. Not only did I receive an award but that I was the only female officer to receive one. I really did not expect it. That quickly turned into happiness though as I started to process that the hard work I was doing was not going unnoticed but it was being appreciated and now celebrated.”
Martin was always a person willing to work hard. As a youth, she wanted to be a business owner and still wishes to do so at some point. But she got a job as a clerk at the Ministry of Legal Affairs and eventually wanted to put what she learned there into practice.
She was about 26 years old when she decided she wanted to be an officer and in 2006 she joined the police service.
“My father was a police officer, and seeing the pride he took in doing his job inspired me and my younger brother to go down that path as well. At some point in time, you will be concerned about the danger involved but I subsided all the fears I may have had and just went full speed ahead.”
Not once has she regretted that decision. Her passion for being an officer is now so fierce, she believes it is her calling.
Martin was initially assigned to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch. She later became part of the Environmental Management Authority police unit and has since been with the IATF for the past three years.
She told WMN she made the move to the IATF because the unit had more opportunities for growth, knowledge and experience as well as for a change of environment.
She explained that there were many different departments within the IATF such as community policing, operations and strike team, administrative department, and case management, and officers can learn a little of everything.
At the IATF, Martin undertakes both administrative and operational roles, doing necessary paperwork as well as participating in patrols, roadblocks, stop and search exercises, and more.
To do so, members had to take a lot of courses including survival training and training to use different types of firearms.
“No matter the unit you are attached to, police work where police work. But the IATF is a specialised unit so, based on our areas of operation – Sea Lots, Beetham, Laventille, Port of Spain – it could be considered more high-risk. Although, working anywhere as an officer is high-risk.”
And though the IATF is a male-dominated unit, she said she is treated with respect, is not discriminated against, and they all work in tandem as a team, as their brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
Striking the balance
Martin, who is engaged and has four children, describes herself as a praying person who always goes above and beyond, which, she believes, contributed to her receiving the award.
“I’m a mother first so, having a protective nature, it’s natural to me to want to help people. I’m a very spiritual person and very much a people's person so I can get along with everybody and am always willing to help.”
She said her family is concerned about her safety but is very supportive of her career.
“My son is three years old and every day he says, ‘Mummy be safe. Love you. See you when you get back.’ And he wants to be a police officer when he gets older because he looks up to his mom.”
She added that at some point during her 15 years in the service, she has found a balance between work and home.
“It works out pretty well for me. I don’t take my work life home or take my home life to work. I’ve seen my share of gruesome scenes but on my way home I condition myself and deal with everything. I learned to compartmentalise both so by the time I open my front door it’s mummy and wife mode.”
She said she does not know what the future holds for her, but the TTPS is a diverse organisation and she welcomes any growth. And if she were to one day have her own business as she once dreamed, it would involve food.
"I always enjoyed cooking as a young person. I liked seeing the joy it brought to my family when my grandmother and I would cook and then the family would sit and have a meal together. Growing up and now having a family of my own I see that same joy and togetherness when I cook and we sit and have a meal together. Sharing a well-cooked meal brings out a type of emotion that can't adequately be captured by words.
"So, if I were to go the entrepreneur route and open a business it would definitely be a family home-style restaurant/kitchen where people could come and share a meal I prepared and hopefully experience some of that indescribable emotion that I feel when cooking and sharing a meal with my loved ones."