The Navajo Nation as well as the blue family have suffered a great loss as one of their own from the Navajo Police Department in New Mexico passed away.
Sergeant Lamar Martin, who was a United States Marine and member of the New Mexico Army National Guard, passed away in the line of duty stemming from an undisclosed medical event that transpired in early October, according to Navajo Police Department officials. While the details of his passing are vague, what’s not is the outstanding service this hero provided in his 22-year career with the department.
The Navajo Nation encompasses portions throughout New Mexico, Arizona and also Utah. Martin’s passing has resulted in officials and community members across the states to mourn his death. Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco issued a press release on Monday.
“It is with great sorrow and significant grief that the Navajo Police Department announces the passing of Police Sergeant Lamar Martin,” the statement read. “During the time of mourning, our police family wants Sergeant Martin’s family to know that we are with you and stand ready to assist in any way. We ask for your prayers and support as we navigate this difficult time.”
The sergeant, who was 46-years-old at the time of his passing, was assigned to the Navajo Police Department’s Crownpoint Police District at the time of his death, according to Native News Online. Chief Francisco had nothing but kind words to lend with regard to Martin’s 22 years of service with NPD, describing Sgt. Martin as a “consummate professional” as he “conducted his duties in the service of our People.”
Sergeant Martin was a member of the department’s Strategic Reaction Team, while also having served as a field training officer, general instructor, and defensive tactics instructor during his career. Chief Francisco also had mentioned that Sergeant Martin was “an honored and awarded military veteran,” who served in both the U.S. Marine Corps and the New Mexico Army National Guard.
Our condolences go out to Navajo Police Sgt Lamar Martin of the Crownpoint district. Thank you for your service to our country as a Marine & to our Navajo People as a Police Officer. It was an honor & privilege to train with you & along side you! R.I.P. hero! We got it from here! pic.twitter.com/IVe8ec2Fxa
— T.R.I.B.E. Security Service (@TRIBESecurity18) November 4, 2019
During his time with the military, he was assigned for active duty during portions of operation Iraqi Freedom in both 2004 and 2009.
“Sergeant Martin has touched the hearts and minds of numerous officers, associated personnel and the public. His loss will be a great one, but our Department and the community have benefited greatly from his smile and ever-present positivity,” Chief Francisco noted.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer announced that all flags on the Navajo Nation would be lowered to half-staff in memory of the treasured sergeant. Jonathan Nez mentioned the tragic loss.
“The memory and honor of Police Sergeant Lamar Martin will live on in our hearts forever. On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and colleagues,” said Nez.
At the invitation of Gov. Ducey, all #PHX city flags have been lowered to half-staff until sunset Tuesday to honor Navajo Police Sergeant Lamar Martin. He died yesterday from a medical event that happened while on duty last month. pic.twitter.com/CPFzeZPyKC
— City of Phoenix, AZ (@CityofPhoenixAZ) November 5, 2019
Myron Lizer added to the sentiments expressed by the Navajo Nation President as well, saying that Sergeant Martin was a “honorable and distinguished” officer, and that his loss brought mourning to the entire Navajo Nation, as reported by Native News Online. Lizer offered a warm sendoff for the accomplished sergeant.
“To his family, we offer our thoughts and prayers for you and Sergeant Martin. Please take comfort in knowing that your loved one is now in the hands of our Creator.”
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Arizona Governor Doug Ducey had also ordered that flags at state buildings be lowered to half-staff on Tuesday this week, considering that the Navajo Nation resides in a large portion of Arizona as well. In a press release, Ducey acclaimed Sergeant Martin’s decades of law enforcement and military service and extended his condolences to the fallen sergeant’s family.
Ducey commented on the embodiment of the sergeant’s career and contribution, saying: “He was committed to the well-being of his community and nation, and put his life on the line to keep others safe.”
The Navajo Nation mourns the loss of Navajo Police Sgt. Lamar Martin, who passed away this morning following a medical event that occurred on Oct. 9. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues. Sgt. Martin will remain in our memories and hearts forever. pic.twitter.com/AF7i1Jo3Xk
— Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez (@NNPrezNez) November 4, 2019
Sergeant Martin leaves behind his wife, Rosinda, as well as his five children, Luke, Kevin, Tylor, Emily, and Maysun, according to his obituary. Our prayers here at Law Enforcement Today go out to the sergeant and his family as well in this time of mourning.
We’ll hold the line from here.
This week we also received news that another military veteran and accomplished police sergeant had tragically passed away after celebrating his 50th birthday.
A Facebook post from the department said that Sergeant Bryant Starks died in his sleep on October 30 after celebrating his birthday. He was remembered fondly as a hero — the truest display of what it means to dedicate a life to service.
“Our hearts go out to the family during this difficult time,” the PCSO said. “May his memory be a blessing.”
Before joining the ranks of the Pulsaki County Sheriff’s Office in 1994, Sgt. Starks had previously been a member of the military, serving his country as a United States Marine.
“While in the Marine Corps he received the National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (4th Award), Southwest Asia service medal (W/2 Bronze Stars), Kuwait Liberation Medal, Meritorious Unit commendation, Navy Commendation and the Good Conduct medal,” the department published in their tribute post.
After serving throughout his deployments, Starks returned stateside and looked for ways to continue doing what he did best – protecting the weak and keeping people safe in their time of greatest need.
In 1994 he signed on with the PSCO and worked in the county’s detention center. He moved to the law enforcement and patrol side of things four years later, and worked his way through a number of divisions including SWAT and Honor Guard until eventually being promoted to sergeant in 2010.
“[Sgt. Starks] had worked in several areas of the Sheriff’s Office over the years, Patrol, Warrants and his last assignment in the Judicial Division located in the Circuit Courthouse downtown,” the department wrote. “He was also a former member of the SWAT team and Honor Guard.”
Not only was he a devoted service member, but he was also engrained in the community as a father and a volunteer, routinely signing up to work with kids during youth sporting events.
“Bryant Starks was a good man. He had a true service heart,” PCSO Major Simon Haynes said while remembering the fallen sergeant. “He served his country, he served his community, and he served his family. He served them all with honor and integrity. He has left a large foot print on this earth and I will miss him. My prayers go out to his family.”
The community also held him in high regard, remembering him for his “infectious smile” and “pure heart”.
My prayers are with the family and friends of @SheriffPulaski Sgt. Bryant Starks. His watch ended Thursday, one day after his 50th birthday. He was a dedicated man of service for our community and our country. My deepest condolences to his loved ones during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/2si9PktRRd
— Leslie Rutledge (@AGRutledge) November 1, 2019
“He was the epitome of integrity,” one Little Rock resident said about Starks. “His heart holds a smile and true love that can never be extinguished. He will never be forgotten. I only pray I may someday live up to his standards as I follow the example he has set forth.”
Starks tragically leaves a big family behind. His obituary stated that he was survived by his wife Erlinda, as well as his kids, Kalani, Kai, Marah, Kaleigh, Evelyn, Maryann, and Keanu. He additionally leaves behind siblings, parents and five grandchildren.
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