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Double Duty

Featured Photo from Double Duty

Law enforcement is a family affair for this devoted team of husband-and-wife crime fighters.

Kelly and John Martin couldn’t be more dedicated to Seminole County if they tried. Both are children of local law enforcement officers, and both have followed in the footsteps of their parents. Kelly is a lieutenant and John is a sergeant with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

“Our dads actually knew each other for more than 30 years through working in law enforcement,” says John. “Even though Kelly and I met for the first time while in the field, it’s as if our dads had already sort of connected us. Needless to say, we got the stamp of approval when we got together.”

Kelly and John fell in love while working the Lake Mary/Sanford patrol circuit early in their careers with the Sheriff’s Office. Since then, they’ve fallen even more in love, not only with each other, but with their vocations to serve our community.

Kelly is lieutenant of the School Safety Division where she oversees safety and security for all Seminole County public schools. John is sergeant of the Professional Development Training Division, and he leads training in defensive tactics. With two beautiful children – Brennan (5) and Sydney (7) – the couple is hyper-aware of their double duty as parents and law-enforcement officers.

“Our kids want to understand what we do at work. If you ask my son Brennan what I do, he’ll say, ‘Daddy teaches people how to wrestle.’” chuckles John, who has a background in amateur wrestling. “I let our kids know that I teach people how to take care of themselves and protect themselves.”

“Our kids go to Seminole County public schools, so that alone amplifies the work I do in school safety,” says Kelly. “It’s an enormous responsibility. The whole point of school is to get an education, and my job is to alleviate any stress that interferes with that.”

Kelly works in the interest of both the Sheriff’s Office and the school system on a variety of projects that include implementing new safety systems and initiatives, preparing for threats and crisis intervention, and overseeing the school resource deputies posted at every public school in Seminole County.

“Our School Safety Division has been breaking the mold on how school safety is done in the country,” Kelly says, “and we are doing our best to always be prepared.”

With years of experience under her belt working in patrol, investigation, at the courthouse, and in domestic security, Kelly understands how policing works through different lenses. Law enforcement, however, was never on her radar to begin with. She received her degree from Florida State University in biology and chemistry and worked as a microbiologist after college.

“I realized I needed something more challenging and decided to go through the police academy,” says Kelly. “I can tell you one thing, every day is different, and I enjoy what I do so much.”

John, on the other hand, always knew law enforcement would be his line of work. A Lake Brantley High grad, he studied criminology at the University of Central Florida then graduated from the police academy. John also wrestled throughout high school and college and coached the boys’ and girls’ wrestling teams at Lake Brantley High.

“I get the best of both worlds with my job doing training in defensive tactics,” John says. “I get to do the cop thing, I get to teach people, I get to wrestle around. It’s everything I love. I love the connection with people, the reactions, and the chance to really break down what I’m teaching.”

At the Professional Development Training Division, John mainly trains in defensive tactics with law enforcement and corrections officers, but he also works with civilians and other divisions in various capacities. He covers everything from use of firearms, Tasers, first aid, driving tactics, and proper use of force, among other skills.

John also enjoys working with civilians and having the opportunity to enlighten them about the ins and outs of law enforcement. He’s involved with a handful of community outreach programs offered by the Sheriff’s Office, such as the Youth Academy, Community Law Enforcement Academy, and Women’s Self-Defense Program.

“When I’m training, I like to make it fun,” John says. “I’m naturally very animated, and it helps people see that I’m a person, not just a cop. The more I humanize it and help people understand why cops do what they do, the better. In training, we handle serious situations but in an open environment. It’s cool to see people’s mind-sets change after a session.”

While John is accustomed to being on the defensive, there may have been a few times when Kelly got to take a couple punches.

“We definitely have video footage of Kelly beating me up during a training session!” John admits with a grin. “I was an instructor covered in padding from head-to-toe pretending to be the bad guy.”

“I’ll admit,” Kelly adds with a laugh, “I definitely had fun doing that!”

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