Martin retires after 30 years in Sheriff's Office

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Clallam County Sheriff's Sgt. Monty Martin responded to a report of a couple who hadn't answered their phone by knocking on their door and waiting - for quite a while -- for them to answer.

When he stepped inside, he instantly got light-headed and knew something was wrong.

The husband was in bed, feeling ill, the wife was moving slowly and the family dog -- normally quite vicious, the wife said - was extremely docile.

Martin discovered the couple had left their car running in the garage and called the fire department, whose staff were able to treat the carbon-monoxide-poisoned couple. Martin received the Lifesaving Medal for his response to the life-threatening situation.

After recounting the story, his eyes twinkled.

"I'm looking forward to doing old-people stuff," he said on the first official day of his retirement.

After spending 30 years working for the Clallam County Sheriff's Office, Martin, 64, was a free man July 1.

On June 22, the Clallam County commissioners held a farewell ceremony for Martin during their regular meeting. Martin received the Sheriff's Star Award, which he can add to the Lifesaving Medal, Purple Heart, three merit awards and two meritorious service awards he's received over the course of his career.

Martin moved to the peninsula in 1980 after working as a deputy at the Marin County Sheriff's Office in California for five years.

He didn't grow up wanting to be a cop, he said - in fact he still doesn't know what he wants to be.

But after a ride-along at age 22, he thought being a cop might be fun.

"The hook was firmly seated," he said.

After attending a police academy in Modesto, Calif., he went to work in Marin County and quickly learned to leave the John Wayne attitude behind when responding to calls.

"When you're new you tend to do things because you think you can," he said, adding he got beaten up a couple times because of it.

Moving to Forks for a job as a forest products deputy was a change from Marin County, but he enjoyed it, he said.

Every day he got to drive down logging roads, talk to loggers and investigate thefts or inspect mills, he said.

"It's like I got paid to be a tourist," he said.

After five years, he was promoted to sergeant and moved to Sequim.

"From 12 feet of rain a year to a little over a foot a year - that was not hard to do," he said.

It was in Sequim he met his wife, Maureen, who works for the Department of Child and Family Services.

In 1991 Martin was promoted to detective sergeant. He covered several big cases, including the 1993 double murder case of Darold Stenson and three robberies.

Martin said some of his favorite memories are of getting thank-yous weeks, months or sometimes years down the road from someone he arrested who wanted to thank him for helping them see the light.

"It makes it worth it," he said.

But there was plenty of misery to go with the job as well.

Cases involving children always were hard, no matter what, as well as death investigations, he said.

"We saw stuff people just shouldn't see and we deal with it the best we can," he said.

Martin took just less than a year of absence from the Sheriff's Office to go to Bosnia with the United Nations. While there he trained and monitored local police. When his leave was up, he was ready to get back to work, he said.

Another stint as detective sergeant in 2005 put him in the middle of dark times at the Sheriff's Office, he said.

Amid a couple of terminations and evidence theft, Martin had a lot of cleaning up to do, he said.

He was promoted to staff sergeant in 2007.

In June 2008, he went to the FBI National Academy for training and shortly after returning home he had a heart attack, he said.

"It wasn't that I was overweight," he said. "I ate well and exercised a lot."

He realized the job he had was a young person's job, he said.

At work he made sure that when he left there was nothing to be done that only he could do, he said.

"Succession planning was important," he said.

The days ahead will be full of fishing, golfing, crabbing, shooting and not being in a hurry, he said.

Except when he runs.

"It'd be a waste after 60 years to let myself go," he said.

Amanda Winters can be reached at

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