Sgt. Javier Martínez
runs the operations side of the Honor Guard, which wears
old-fashioned dress uniforms to serve at community events,
funerals, color guard duties, and other public appearances. He
lines up all the training activities and details of public
“The honor guard is basically the hearts and minds and faces of
the sheriff’s department,” said Martínez. “We go out and do many
community events and represent the sheriff in a positive light
any chance that we can.”
The honor guard uniforms are quite striking, complete with white
gloves and all the pomp and circumstance that goes with formal
and ceremonial activities. Martínez has the responsibility of
making sure everyone is dressed properly, shoes shined, and all
the right accoutrements in place.
“The uniform is quite unique in itself, because it may not be
the most functional uniform,” he said. “However, we could still
do our duties should we have to at any given time. It is a very
dressy uniform, formal attire, not a working uniform, per se.”
The Mexican-American grew up near the corner of Lagrange and
Page in North Toledo, then moved to California when he was 12.
As a teen, he grew up in the San Bernardino area, in an
environment where many Californians don’t have much respect for
law enforcement. Until he turned 21, however, becoming a
sheriff’s deputy was not an option.
So Martínez enlisted in the US Marines right after graduating
high school and served a tour of duty in Iraq. Once he completed
his military service, he returned to Toledo at age 26. Now the
40-year old afternoon shift supervisor at the Lucas County Jail
wants to be more community-minded.
“Why not use the honor guard, since we’re the ones who are
always out in the community. We’re always the ones interacting
with the populous. Why not utilize them to do so,” he said. “We
do have corrections officers on the honor guard, which is quite
unique compared to the other honor guards in the area that only
use police officers or deputies.”
Lucas County Sheriff John
last fall lowered the age to serve as a corrections officer from
21 to 19. The hope is to draw more candidates to fill 100 vacant
positions and train more corrections officers for when a new
jail finally does open in the coming years. The department has
had trouble recruiting viable candidates, even though a handful
of job fairs have been held in recent months—including a two-day
event on March 25 and 26 at the UAW Local 12 union hall on
“Just think about this: young people that are in high school,
graduated from high school, they want to go into law
enforcement, but they have to wait three years in order to even
apply to go into law enforcement,” said Sheriff Tharp at a press
conference last September.
The sheriff also is concerned that teens interested in a law
enforcement career could find their way into trouble and run
afoul of the law while they’re waiting for that opportunity.
“A lot can happen to a person in three years. Life can go
haywire for a person in three years. There are some young people
that are in communities that are high-crime areas that are being
pulled by individuals to deal drugs, pulled by individuals to
commit crimes,” said Tharp.
That’s where success stories like Sgt. Martínez can come into
play. He can share his own story.
“When you’re young, you don’t know if you’re poor. You don’t
know if you’re impoverished,” he said. “You just live life.
Maybe as you get older, you realize some of those things. But I
was raised with lots of love and encouragement, focused on
bettering myself and not letting my circumstances dictate the
If teens start as corrections officers, they can build
worthwhile career experience while they wait until age 21 to
enter the police academy to become a deputy sheriff or police
officer. There’s also concern that a police department or
sheriff’s office should reflect the community it serves, so Sgt.
Martinez can help recruit other young Latinos as someone who
looks like them.
“It’s humbling, because I really don’t think about it like that.
As a Mexican-American, you can take very good pride in the way
we present and how we raise our children and how we interact
with the community,” he said. “If I can do it, anybody else can
do it. I know how much time my parents and my aunts and my
uncles and the community around me helped to raise me and to
guide me into the person that I am.”
Martínez will celebrate a 12th wedding anniversary
this year with his wife Jackie. The couple has three sons, ages
19, 8, and 5. They now live in West Toledo. His career success
can act as a shining example to young Latinos in an era of
high-profile police brutality cases and officer-involved
shootings that have tarnished the image of law enforcement as a
“If you might look at it as to how possibly your family may look
at you (as a law enforcement officer), then do it for yourself,”
he advised. “When you do this type of job, you do it because you
have something inside of you that you want to better yourself,
you want to do more than (what you currently are doing).”
Martínez believes, overall, front-line officers and staff can
have the best conversations with potential recruits.
“I think that, in the recruitment process, we can answer a lot
of questions because we are the men and women that do the
day-to-day operations,” he said. “Should they have real
questions, we can give them real answers. We can give them solid
looks, like ‘I know it will be hard at the beginning, but the
overall [effort] is better for you.’”
A listing of available positions and online application is