Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A fine tour of duty

Sgt. Geoff Marti is hanging up his tactical vest, retiring from his role as a member of the Lincoln Police Department SWAT Team. He has served on the Team for 19 years, and for the past 11 years, he has been the Team Leader--essentially the person who makes the tactical decisions when the Team is deployed.

Officers who serve on the SWAT Team all have other full time assignments (Geoff is our Internal Affairs investigator right now), but when we need their special skills, the Team members drop what they're doing and respond to the most critical incidents we have--and the most dangerous. After 19 years of call outs, Sgt. Marti deserves a full night's sleep and relief from the ever present beeper.

He's done a great job for us as Team Leader. He's respected and trusted by the Team, and by me. When the 3:00 AM call comes from the late shift Duty Commander seeking my authorization to activate the SWAT Team, I do not hesitate. I know that the Team will do their usual good job in resolving a serious episode. Sgt. Marti has been largely responsible for my confidence, and he passes the torch to another member who has learned the craft of Team Leader by watching his example.

During the past five years alone, SWAT has been activated 39 times. There have been high risk search warrants, Nazi rallies, 15 people threatening suicide, and 16 armed and barricaded suspects during that time. These incidents have quietly come to a successful conclusion without serious injury to anyone, often completely beneath the news media radar. Solid tactics and training, patience, maturity, courage, and sound decision making has saved many lives.

Geoff isn't retiring from the department, he's just leaving the SWAT Team in the good hands of those he has led and trained. He'll still be around doing and supervising good police work in whatever position he holds. We go way back to the beginning of his career. I was his training sergeant, and Geoff was on my dowtown squad when he was a new officer. He is the grandson of Lincoln's most suave and debonair Mayor, Lloyd Marti. His brother Charlie is also a Lincoln police officer, and another brother, Don, is a former Lincoln Police Officer.

The Marti brothers all share a common trait--a slightly off beat sense of humor. If you've read this blog for any time at all, you probably realize that I, too, have a touch of that same trait. One day a few years ago I was showing Geoff my new digital camera. I left it laying on my desk, and later I found that Sgt. Marti had tried it out. I saved the results for the past several years, but it's just part of my twenty-five year collection of gems from Sgt. Marti.

If you checked out that photo of his grandfather, you'll notice the strong resemblance. Surely, Geoff, you realized that photo would someday come back to haunt you.

You've done a great job as Team Leader, and I thank you for your service. The bar has been set high, but you've prepared others for the challenge. Congratulations.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Marti didn't take pictures of something besides his face.

After 19 years of banging around on the SWAT team I'll bet he knows one thing for sure. It sure sucks to get old.

Tom Casady said...

9:24 AM:

That's hilarious, but you know I can't post it. I will, however, share it with Geoff. I'm surprised, too!

This will drive readers nuts, but I can't help it--you were anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Nice picture but I think he would much rather have one like this posted.

Anonymous said...

Both pics are great! The first one looks like he's at the crib entertaining a little baby, and the other one looks like he's got his war-face on for tactical work.

Anonymous said...

Policemen are hot!!!

Anonymous said...

I was a punk kid in 1975 when "S.W.A T." with Steve Forrest and Robert Urich first burst onto to the TV. It had one of the best theme songs of all time:

Ah, it's like old times. Anyway, the show was great PR that helped ease public reservations about the introduction of small, light paramilitary units in large city police departments. TV cops weren't all drunken serial adulterers back then, and as such, that show's characters put a regular guy face with the M-16 and black tactical gear. Family men with a rare and special job.

It let them see that they weren't there to kill everything in sight, but rather to control a hairy situation, and minimize the loss of innocent life, with razor-like lethal force applied only when there was no other option.

Even as a kid, it was plain to see that having a specialized urban tactical force, to be used judiciously, would save more innocent lives than it would take.

The prospect of facing a vastly superior combat opponent is usually enough to make an aggressor think again and figure that handcuffs and a courtroom look far more appealing than not seeing tomorrow. This equipment and training, accompanied by skillful leadership, is easily worth every dollar spent.

deleted poster said...

I tried my best to keep it clean.

Or was it the part about how it sucks to get old?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:20...

Honey...I thought you were at work and didn't have access to the internet anymore. I'll have to talk to your boss again.

Anonymous said...

The first one looks like that guy from the opening scenes in "Sling Blade". ya know, right after he drags the chair over to Billy Bob.

Anonymous said...

In response to punk appears that you have a HUGE ego. How do you even function from day to day with a big head like such.

Anonymous said...

The "big head" comment left me puzzled. Then it struck me that there might be an errant assumption that I might be a Police Officer and perhaps a member of a SWAT team, and thus trying to pin a rose on myself. Sorry, neither assumption would be correct. I haven't worn a uniform of any sort since I got my DD-214. I don't even have any current or former LEOs in the family.

I'm just a civilian that doesn't reflexively hate law enforcement personnel, though I realize that a thankfully small and cranky minority do just that. I've no idea why those folks are that way, probably still holding a grudge over a dope bust back in 1967, an MIP charge a few years ago, or something else that was their fault entirely.

Anonymous said...

Jeff is soooo much cooler than Charlie...even in shorts.

thomasehlersjr-xLPD565 said...

Hey Chief, it is sooooo coooool that you have a blog page, and even coooooooler that you included Geoff in it as a subject matter.

Those of us who went through tactical training with Geoff at Fort Oreapolis in the 1980's sure are proud of him!