By Christopher Hernandez
At first glance, Wendy Martinez may look like just an average college student, but this former police officer has seen in real life what her classmates only see in gory cop shows.
Her first call as a police officer came in as a reported suicide. As Martinez interviewed witnesses, she realized she had stumbled onto a domestic dispute turned deadly. When the victim’s boyfriend found out she was cheating, he stabbed her in the face 36 times.
“It was just the whole rush of the crime scene: people writing down the accounts and taping off the area,” Martinez said.
Now she’s put that rush somewhat behind her, becoming just a reserve police officer and studying pre-law. She hopes to become a criminal defense attorney, and she heads toward that goal with a perspective born out of personal trauma.
“I grew up with the cops around all the time because of my parents,” said Martinez, whose father was abusive. “It’s hard to see the kids in domestic disturbance calls because I knew what they were going through. I can see it in their eyes.”
Having allowed time to heal the wounds of the past, Martinez has since forgiven her father and has so much love for him. However,
“I saw my mom with no power. She was belittled by my father,” Martinez said. “During these situations of domestic disturbance, I show the women that you can be strong and put your foot down and say, ‘I am not going to take this from you. I am not going to tolerate this abuse.’
“My biggest issue was domestic disturbance because I had to put my emotions aside,” she said.
Martinez feels that during these situations it is essential to put the title of cop behind and be a confidant, a friend to the abused.
“I like to not be like I came, I called, and I left. I want to leave an impact,” she said.
Martinez misses the rush of being a police officer, but school is her main priority now. She wakes up every morning, goes to class and then works at an internship in a law office from 2 to 5 p.m.
When work ends, she goes back home to catch her favorite show on A&E, “The First 48,” a show documenting real-life crime scene investigations. At any time, she may be called to enforce the law as a reserve officer.
A full time cop, according to Martinez, works eight to 12 hour shifts, has 24-hour access to a SWAP car, carries a gun and is called in for traffic related instances, domestic disturbances, fender benders and homicides. She has weathered the adrenaline-driving scenes and also the mundane.
“Fender bender reports are super long,” she said. I felt like I was writing a paper for school.” Now she’s in school for real.
“I wanted to go to school and be a cop,” Martinez said. “With the economy I knew I needed to get a degree. They are laying people off all over the place.”
Along the way, Martinez has already showed perseverance as a female in a male dominated profession. One of four women during her days in the police academy, she recalls the varied attitude toward women.
“They treat you like you are different,” she said.
“They would say, ‘If you want to do girl push-ups, that’s okay,’ or give us a shorter distance to run, but all of us would just do just as much as the guys. We were all so strong willed,” Martinez said. “It’s always like they are the strongest. It makes us women work twice as hard or three times as hard just to prove ourselves.”
Martinez said the toughness taught at the academy has definitely spilled over into the love portion of her life.
“I’m really funny and easy to get along with, but my job required me to be tough,” she said. “It has shaped me and is part of who I am.”
Martinez feels this is the reason that long-term relationships have never worked out.
“It’s not that I am not laid back,” she said. “It’s just I am very demanding.”
“When I have children,” Martinez said, “I want to show them that there is no specific gender for any specific career. It’s beneficial to dirty your nails as long as you are happy doing it.”