Tuesday, Sept. 12, is National Police Woman Day and is celebrated annually to acknowledge and applaud the contribution of female police officers. Along with expressing gratitude to these officers, the day also hopes for a future where law enforcement bodies will have stronger female representation.
The Fort Worth Police Department has worked hard to create a diverse department, and Deputy Chief Monica Martin has served the department for over 18 years, creating a path for other female officers to follow.
Martin was born and raised in East Texas, but moved to Fort Worth when she was 13. She graduated from Eastern Hills High School in 1998. Her stepfather, Glen Edney, who was a police lieutenant with FWPD was influential in her joining the department. However, after a robbery involving her mother and two stepsisters, Martin realized her mother felt safe once officers arrived on scene. That incident spurred her to become a police officer.
“I realized what an impact those officers made that night and what a sense of security they created when they showed up,” she said. “I didn’t choose to join the Police Department. It was a calling.”
After joining the Police Department in 2005, Martin never looked back. Her lieutenant at the time, Joyce Dary, took Martin under her wing and helped her navigate the department as a young officer.
Assistant Chief Julie Swearingin has been a sounding board throughout Martin’s career and has always kept her encouraged. Martin started as a police officer in the West Division and five years later was promoted to corporal. A short time later, she moved to Internal Affairs and was then promoted to sergeant.
“For six years, I was the sergeant for Municipal Court preparing police discovery requests, scheduling court appearances and testifying in court,” she said. “I then went to TCU for my Executive MBA in 2021 and graduated in May 2023.”
While completing her EMBA, Martin was promoted to lieutenant of the East Division Patrol. Two months later, she applied for commander at the urging of her parents and other officers.
Everyone was encouraging her to apply, but she had only held the lieutenant position for two months. Her mom said, “You have been an officer for over 17 years, not just a lieutenant for two months.”
“I applied late on a Friday, got called for an interview the following day, and by Wednesday, I received a call from the chief,” Martin continued. “Chief Noakes has been a strong supporter of what I am trying to accomplish in the communities we serve. He believes in me and has confidence in me, and that has helped me along the way.”
Martin was offered the position as the next commander, where she went from supervising eight people to nearly 200.
While a Commander over East Division, she started a Fireworks/Street Racing Committee to get solutions for fireworks and street racing. Through combined efforts with other divisions on the force, FWPD was recognized by Gov. Greg Abbott on their success in stopping street takeover events.
Martin strove to increase the number of officers, not to just saturate the market but for community engagement to reduce violence and create a safer community.
“I wanted to empower officers, but they also empowered me as a leader,” she said. “I wanted to continue taking all that I could to learn and succeed and continue giving back to officers and the community. They poured so much into me as well.”
After a little over a year, on July 13, Martin became the deputy chief of the Community, Safety and Partnership Bureau.
“My standard has always been to strive for excellence,” Martin said. “I’ve always wanted to maintain public trust and maintain my values, principles and behaviors. When I was announced as the deputy chief, I received 215 emails from the community and officers showing support and appreciation. That showed me the true impact I had while serving the community and officers.”
And that impact threads through the many years she’s spent as a Fort Worth Police officer.
“As the first Black woman to be in an appointed rank of commander and now deputy chief is meaningful in my 18-year career here in Fort Worth. Any negativity is just white noise to me, and I always go back to my standards and mission of serving my community and creating true relationships,” Martin said. “I encourage others to always strive for excellence and keep core morals and values in everything they do.”