Redlands Deputy Chief of Police Travis Martinez was honored as Officer of the Year by the California Robbery Investigators Association at the organization’s 50th annual conference held Feb. 16 in Reno , Nevada.
In presenting the award, association president Richard T. Long, a retired Newport Beach police detective, first noted Martinez’s efforts to develop the Redlands Police Department’s GPS tracking program. to leverage technology to investigate and prevent crime.
In 2011, to deal with a significant increase in vehicle break-ins in the community at a time when the department’s sworn staff had been reduced by 22% due to the lingering effects of the 2008 recession, the department developed a Effective and affordable GPS tracking system program.
In partnership with local residents and businesses, the department began deploying small GPS devices discreetly concealed inside objects that could be targeted by thieves.
When the object is moved, it activates the GPS device and immediately sends an alert to dispatchers and officers’ smartphones, allowing police to track the direction and speed of the device’s movement.
The department was immediately successful and since the initial rollout, Redlands Police have expanded the use of technology to respond to any criminal trends occurring in the community, resulting in hundreds of arrests for crimes such as theft armed robbery, vehicle burglary, bicycle theft, laptop theft, metal and wire theft, vending machine theft, tire theft, construction site theft, package theft and even the theft of memorial items left at graves in Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery.
As a result, vehicle burglary crimes were initially reduced by 34% between 2010 and 2014.
“But that’s not why we’re telling this story here about this excellent peace officer,” Long said.
On September 11, 2021, Martinez was off duty after attending a football game at the University of Redlands, when he received a tracking alert. Two armed men had robbed the Shell gas station at Alabama Street and Industrial Park Avenue. The tracker said the suspects were at an apartment complex near Martinez’s location.
Martinez responded to the location and joined the Redlands sergeant at the scene in pursuit of the suspects.
“Chief Martinez, wearing…very untactical shorts and flip flops, called…”I’m behind you, let’s go! ‘” Long said. “Travis located and knocked down one of the suspects and, using a maneuver from his football days at the University of Redlands, he tackled the thief.”
The two suspects were taken into custody.
Early in the morning of November 29, 2021, Martinez was off again when he received a follow-up alert to an armed robbery at a Unocal gas station on Parkford Avenue.
Dispatchers tracked the tracker’s movement and provided information to officers over the radio. At the same time, Martinez followed in his unmarked police vehicle.
As the suspects traveled east on Interstate 10 with officers from Redlands trying to catch up with them, the pursuit was eventually called off due to poor radio reception and security concerns.
Martinez continued to follow the tracker until it stopped at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage. Martinez was eventually able to identify a suspect and confirmed that his movements matched those of the tracker. Martinez approached the suspect and told him he was looking for Casino Morongo. He offered to pay the suspect to drive him to the nearby casino.
While the suspect was driving, Martinez followed and coordinated with Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputies who took the suspect into custody in Cabazon before turning him over to Redlands police on charges of armed robbery.
“It was all part of a day’s work for Travis Martinez,” Long said as he presented the award.
Accepting the award “on behalf of the entire Redlands Police Department”, Martinez credited the effectiveness of the GPS program to the cohesion of the entire Redlands team working together to tackle crime in the community in innovative ways. .
From identifying crime trends, deploying devices, sending alert information and directing travel, follow-up investigation work, processing crime scenes and processing reports related crimes, Redlands Police’s sworn and professional staff, including volunteers, all contribute to the program’s overall success in apprehending those who intend to commit retail crimes, Martinez said. .
“Since 2011, specialized GPS technology has allowed the RPD to be put in direct contact with hundreds of criminals and hold them accountable for the crimes they have committed, while giving officers the tactical advantage to stay in security during the arrest,” Martinez said.
“The Redlands Police Department is committed to improving public safety through technology and community partnerships, and recognition from our GPS program reinforces the value of our continued efforts.”