Sheriff Willy Martin, Jr. Begins Eighth Term As Parish’s Top Law Enforcer
At noon on Wednesday, July 1st, St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin, Jr. and 110 members of his administration were officially sworn-in and received their law enforcement commissions.
In the past, the Sheriff and his entire staff would all be sworn-in at the same time, but this year was a bit different because of COVID-19.
Practicing social distancing measures, the Sheriff had his team of deputies, investigators and members of his administration break up in to groups and each group then appeared in front of Twenty-third Judicial District Judge Tommy Kliebert, who administered the Oaths of Office inside the main courtroom at the Convent Courthouse.
This year’s swearing in ceremony was also extra special because it marks the beginning of Martin’s eighth consecutive term as the Parish’s Sheriff, which is no small feat because he and only one other Sheriff in Louisiana can claim they have been serving the public for as long.
Sheriff Martin, along with Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre, share the distinction of first being elected in 1992 and then being re-elected for seven additional and consecutive terms.
When asked what it has been like serving the people of St. James Parish for the last 28-years, Sheriff Martin said he thanks the people for entrusting him with the awesome responsibility of being their Sheriff, which is something he takes very, very serious.
Martin said a lot has changed since he took over in 1992, and especially since September 11, 2001 (911), in the way policing is done in general, but also how law enforcement agencies throughout the state and nation share in formation and work more closely together.
“When I was first elected, I think I felt like I had something to prove because many questioned if I had what it took to be Sheriff because I did not have a law enforcement background,” said Martin. “I have always remained steadfast in making changes when I think they are necessary and I have always said this job was never a power trip for me. It is a job that comes with great responsibility and I have always understood and respected that.”
In today’s world, where there is a national movement against police brutality, racial injustice, and calls for police reform, Sheriff Martin says when he looks back he is proud of the changes and the way he and his department have evolved over the years.
“I tell every single new hire to treat the public like you want people to treat you and your family,” Martin said. “I really like my team today and I still wake up every morning wanting to go to work.”
How many more years Sheriff Martin will want to serve the people of St. James Parish is not set in stone at this time, but we definitely have him for four more years. *On a personal note:
*On a personal note: Being in the newspaper business I have had the opportunity to work and speak to Sheriff Martin and many of his staff on a regular basis.
Over the years I have come to admire how he conducts himself in public, how he speaks to people and how he handles very stressful and tragic times.
As we navigate through life today and all we are going through - COVID-19, protests against police brutality and racial injustices and the many other problems facing our nation and world, I am proud to have Sheriff Martin as my Sheriff.
He is calm, thoughtful, kind and truly loves and cares for St. James Parish; and I think his department reflects that as well.
I think I speak on behalf of the people of St. James Parish when I say congratulations on your eighth term and we thank you and your department for all you do.