Emerson's newest police officer, Jacqueline Martinez, is a single mother who began working at Emerson in 2009 as a Securitas officer. She became a police department dispatcher in 2013, and this month was sworn in as the department's newest officer. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)
A single mother and Emerson College’s newest police officer, Jacqueline Martinez credits the institution for providing her a path to a better life for herself—a child of inner city Boston—and her daughter, Austria, who was born three years ago with a cleft lip and a heart condition.
“While I was pregnant, I worked for Securitas [as a security officer] here at Emerson,” said Martinez, age 27. “My goal was to make sure she had everything she needed. I accomplished that goal, luckily.”
“I’ve learned to communicate with people and [let them] know they can always come to the Emerson College Police Department if they need to,” she said.
Her public safety career began as an Emerson Securitas officer in 2009. She became an Emerson police dispatcher in late 2013, one year before she joined the academy to become a cop.
“That was my dream—to become a police officer,” Martinez said. “I feel like I’m not a product of my environment…And I’m grateful.”
Martinez, who speaks Spanish, has four sisters and was raised by a single mother in a neighborhood in Dorchester, where she said gunshots and drug dealing were not rare.
“I saw the criminal activities happening around me,” she said. “I saw the destruction that went with [those] actions, and I didn’t want to be a part of that. That wasn’t the environment I wanted for my daughter, either.”
Martinez said her mother “did her very best” to steer her five daughters away from the criminal activity of their peers.
“Thankfully, we all did OK,” she said, adding that two of her sisters work in nursing, one is a hairdresser, and the other works in information technology.
Martinez, who received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology from University of Massachusetts Boston, said she identified with Emerson students when working as a security officer in “literally all” of the campus buildings.
Emerson College Police Department Officer Jacqueline Martinez receives training on a recent day from her colleague, Officer Walter Patterson, as they walk on Boylston Street. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)
“A lot of the students here, they spoke to me. It was always, ‘good morning,’ or ‘good afternoon;’ just that courtesy,” Martinez said. “I could relate to them because at the time I was in college too.”
Martinez said knowing the physical layout of Emerson’s urban campus has given her an advantage.
“If and when there’s an emergency, I have to make sure I know where to go, and how fast I can react,” she said.
As for police academy training, Martinez called it “intense” but “a great experience.”
“Have you ever watched WWF?” she joked.
In one exercise, the instructor, “had me do five burpees, climb up a wall, then another wall, and then I had to go down into a tunnel and jump on a fake body,” Martinez said.
As soon as that was done, Martinez had to run into a simulated nightclub where her partner was being assaulted on the ground by multiple people (who were all wearing protective gear).
“I was not only tired, but my adrenaline was pumping,” she said. “All I see is my partner on the floor and they’re putting all their body pressure on him.”
Martinez has big dreams—she would like to become a U.S. Border Patrol Agent one day—but plans to stick around Emerson for a while.
“My fellow officers, lieutenants, and sergeants have all been so great to me,” she said. “Anytime I’ve needed anyone to talk to or needed anything, they’ve been there for me in a second.”