In his valedictorian speech to his class at Sacred Heart University, Max Martins declared his ultimate career goal would be to head a small-sized police department. Martins is one step closer to achieving that dream with his most recent appointment as the Orange Police Department’s new Assistant Chief. Since joining the department in 1995 as a patrolman, Martins has been steadily working his way up the ladder, serving as a patrol supervisor, detective, and a variety of administrative positions. “I think the only job I haven’t done is undercover work,” Martins said. He is a certified EMT and has achieved the titles of Sergeant, (2003), Lieutenant (2007) and served as the department’s administrative lieutenant prior to his current appointment.
A career in law enforcement appealed to Martins because it suited his hands-on personality and promised new challenges every day. “I started out as a math major but realized I needed more excitement. I’m a ‘go-go-go’ type of guy and I like to have my hands in everything. I always liked the police and with policing you never know from day to day what you are going to get. The day flies by,” he said. And there was also that popular action crime ‘dramedy’ in the late 1970s, “Chips,” starring macho officer Frank “Ponch” played by actor Erik Estrada that might have had a slight influence on Martin’s career choice. Martins graduated first in his class at the police academy and has received several awards from the OPD, including its highest honor, the Lifesaving Medal for his role in saving the life of a runner who collapsed at the Peck Place Road Race several years ago. He recently completed the Command Officers Development course through the Southern Police Institute.
Orange was the first department to offer him a position after college and Martins expects to stay for his entire career. Loyalty to the Orange PD is in his DNA. Raised in Bridgeport in a blue collar family, Martins’ parents led by example—once you had a good job, you stuck with it. “They believed that you chose your profession then did your best,” Martins said. “This is my place, my family.”
Martins has worked under Chief Robert Gagne for nearly all his tenure and credits him with being a stellar role model and mentor. “I’ve always worked closely with him and I follow his lead. I have plenty to learn and I plan to keep my eyes and ears open,” he said. His goals as the new Assistant Chief will be to continue the department’s commitment to professionalism by requiring on-going training of its officers, attracting qualified candidates, acquiring the best equipment and newest technology available, updating policies and applying for state and federal grants. He is also involved in coordinating the renovations and systems upgrades that are currently underway at the department’s Lambert Road building. The parking lot paving project was recently completed and the renovation of the communication area and installation of new equipment is slated to begin in the coming months.
Some of the challenges Martins sees on the horizon include keeping up with motor vehicle incidents related to the ever-increasing traffic on the Boston Post Road and other main thoroughfares, maintaining a reasonable budget, serving as first responders in a town recognized as having among the largest populations of octogenarians and nonagenarians in Connecticut and handling the growing opiate epidemic. “When I first came to the department in the 90s, residents were fighting Stew Leonard’s coming to town because of the increased traffic the store would bring,” Martins recounts. “Traffic was a big issue then and today there’s no Stew Leonard’s but traffic has increased ten-fold. Traffic is out of control and there’s no end in sight.” In the coming years the department hopes to add several officers in anticipation of the proposed train station and hotels slated to open on Marsh Hill Road.
Last fall Martins achieved another goal – moving into the town he polices with his family. “It’s pretty good here,” Martins said good-naturedly, pointing out that police officers who live in Orange have a vested interest in the town. “Neighbors often come to me with any issues,” he said.
Of Martins’ appointment, Chief Gagne said, “I have complete confidence in the skills and abilities of Assistant Chief Max Martins. He works extremely hard and is a dedicated and loyal member of the Department. He is the type of person who pays close attention to detail and who gets things done.”
Martins replaces former Assistant Chief Tony Cuozzo who retired from the department in September after more than a quarter-century of service to the Town of Orange. Cuozzo left to pursue a new career in the private sector as the COO of Chip’s Restaurants, a regional restaurant franchise.