As chief, Martins plans to enhance neighborhood engagement

As chief, Martins plans to enhance neighborhood engagement

Former Pawtucket cop sees opportunity for fine-tuning

NORTH PROVIDENCE – In many ways, Deputy Chief Arthur Martins is a carbon copy of outgoing Chief David Tikoian, from sharing a hometown of Smithfield to their affable leadership styles.

But make no mistake about Martins despite his good-natured vibe, said Mayor Charles Lombardi when he came to the department at the start of 2018; he’s a “good street cop” who earned his stripes on the streets of neighboring Pawtucket, where he also learned to be a great administrator.

Lombardi told command staff last week that Martins would be the new chief and there would be no search to replace Tikoian, who is retiring. Martins will officially start his tenure as chief on Jan. 1.

“From my perspective, Maj. Martins is the perfect fit for the department,” said Tikoian at that time. “He is an experienced, well respected law enforcement professional sharing my leadership philosophy and vision for the department.”

And Tikoian hasn’t changed that tune in the nearly two years since, telling The Breeze for a story last week that Martins will bring a seamless transition to a department that’s made such strides, bringing competent, respected and professional leadership.

Martins told The Breeze it wasn’t initially a big part of his thought process to eventually become chief when he came last year, though he came to think more recently that such a promotion was likely. The goal when he first got here, he said, was to help Tikoian reform the department and “get it on some better footing than it was on.”

“We were on the same page from the beginning,” he said of the partnership with Tikoian, particularly in their thought processes and ideologies related to engaging with the community.

He said he plans to continue the progress made under Tikoian with community policing and outreach efforts. One area of focus will be on developing more traction with such groups as the new Marieville Neighborhood Partnership.

“I’d like to see something like that in different neighborhoods of town,” he said, adding that engaged neighborhood groups help with watching for crime, improving quality of life, and overall engagement. The goal going forward will be to keep driving that community mindset in both the department and community, he said.

Asked how his time in Pawtucket benefits him in coming to a town with less complex crime issues, Martins said he’s seen just about everything in the neighboring community and there’s nothing that can really take him by surprise. North Providence has seen a reduction in crime the past few years, but there’s still a way to go, with certain categories such as property crimes still impacting certain neighborhoods.

As he did in Pawtucket, he's planning to continue the effort to eliminate crime before it happens.

“I’m a firm believer in crime prevention,” he said. “I would rather prevent crime than solve crime any day.”

Once people fall victim to criminal activity, they lose faith and live in fear, said Martins. If, working with the community, police can help prevent the crime from happening in the first place through simple measures such as adding better lighting or supporting a neighborhood crime watch, then they’d prefer that route.

Martins, 54, has been married to his wife, Paula, since 1994 and they have two daughters, Kendra and Haley. He enjoys spending time with family, fishing, reading and staying active, including running and spending time in the outdoors, he said.

Asked how long he plans to stay in North Providence, he said he sees no reason why he would want to leave, saying he’s invested here and loves working with the men and women of the department.

“When I first started, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said, adding that he was pleasantly surprised by the realities of the department compared to some of what he’d read about the department.

Local officers had taken a few hits, he said, but they were and are proud of their organization and want to see it thrive.

Though he doesn’t have to come in and tackle any big-time initiatives, with a new safety complex in place, the department’s 2012 Google winnings also paying for new equipment and vehicles, and the department now receiving accreditation, Martins said he wants to continue fine-tuning operations, including the thought processes within the department.

In addition to having officers be visible in the community, he wants to keep focusing on data-driven approaches to crime and traffic safety.

“We want to reduce crime, reduce accidents, and improve the quality of life of all our residents,” he said.

Martins was a former longtime major in the Pawtucket Police Department, where he worked for 28 years, and later a member of former Attorney Gen. Peter Kilmartin’s staff starting in 2015, mostly investigating social security fraud. He was one of seven applicants for the deputy chief job in North Providence, a position he won after rising through the ranks in Pawtucket from patrol officer to detective, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and finally major.

He has been responsible for many of the department’s day-to-day operations since arriving in North Providence.

Martins was the key organizer in the restoration and revitalization of Barton Street in Pawtucket, reducing crime and prostitution in that neighborhood.

A graduate of Bryant University with a degree in criminal justice, Martins holds a master’s degree from Anna Maria College in the administration of justice. He graduated from the FBI National Academy. He served on the Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club Strategic Planning Committee, the Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborative, and the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen Board of Directors. He received the 2015 John J. Coen Award for Community Service and Social Justice.