Lane Martin, police chief for the Orange Police Department, wasn’t one of those little boys who always dreamed of becoming a police officer when he grew up. Instead, he attended college to study business.

Martin, 45, grew up in Mauriceville and graduated from Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School. It was an elective class that drew him into law enforcement.

“I found criminal justice to be very interesting,” Martin said.

As a result, he took additional classes on law enforcement and had found his niche and a new career choice. Following graduation at the age of 20 he applied for a patrol position at OPD. He was about to turn the minimum age of 21 years old and in January of 1989 he was hired.

Over the course of his career, he has worked in several different departments within OPD. Although he started on patrol, he eventually went to the detective division. But, it was patrol which lead him to become a field training officer and promoted to captain. He was later promoted to captain of the detective division as well. He would transfer again back to the patrol division as a captain before becoming a major. Finally, about 19 months ago he became the police chief.

“This has been a rewarding career and I’ve enjoyed it,” Martin said. “I met a lot of nice people.”

As chief his plan to make the community as safe as possible.

“When you have a safe community the quality of life is better,” Martin said. He also hopes to help the city grow by providing a safe environment for businesses to grow and become proactive before a problem occurs.

“The officers have worked very hard in the area and with the businesses on 16th street to stop illegal activities that occur in parking lots such as drug dealing, illegal solicitations and prostitution by being as visible as possible,” he said.

To help make the officers visible in the community, the city has provided computers inside the patrol vehicles which enables the officer them to complete their reports without having to go to the office. Although in some cases the officer must still go to the station.

Not only is the officer more visible to area business owners, but their presence can help deter criminal activity, he added.

In addition, OPD has tried to control the crime by increasing extra patrols in some of the neighborhoods. Some areas have different problems than others such as juvenile issues or vandalism. Since Martin took over as chief in 2011, there were 29,314 calls for service. Some of the number crimes reported dropped while others increased. There was only one murder in Orange in 2011 as in 2010. In addition, there were 14 sexual assaults compared to 17 the year before. In addition to the 38 robberies and 119 assaults which also dropped in numbers since 2010. Overall in crimes against persons there were 387 reported in 2011 while in 2010 there were 416.

Property crimes also decreased with 1,190 reported in 2010 and 1,628 in 2010. At times, Martin leaves his office job behind and goes out to answer a call. Such is the case of the recent bank robbery where he assisted the officers.

“I like to assist as much as I can,” Martin said.

He added he likes to be out in the community but he has a lot of administrative duties to tend to as well.

Martin attributes the success of the department to his “excellent staff.”

“They work very hard and I enjoy working with them,” he said.

The biggest challenge Martin faces as chief is keeping OPD up with current technology. He also keeps a watchful eye on identifying the small problems before they become larger.

As a recent move forward, OPD acquired two new police vehicles. They are 2013 Ford SUVS. They are complete with everything an officer would need, even if a pursuit is needed. In addition, they are more fuel efficient compared to the older vehicles.

‘We are excited about them,” Martin said. “They drive very well.”

When not working he enjoys spending time with his wife of 21 years and his three children. He also enjoys a good game of basketball with friends.

Photo: Lane Martin, Orange Police Chief, stands by the latest vehicle to join the force. The 2013 Ford SUV is fully equipped and out on the streets. RECORD PHOTO: Debby Schamber

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.