By Debra Roberts, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Known around town as “Officer Phil” or “Officer Martin,” patrolman Phillip Martin is well-known and well-liked in the Northborough community. If you are a Northborough resident, chances are you’ve run into him. Whether he’s tracking you down to return your lost wallet, installing your baby’s car seat, or educating you on crosswalk safety laws, he is fully committed to the town of Northborough, where he has served for 18 years.
“Personally and professionally he goes above and beyond,” remarked Andi Daunais, fifth-grade teacher at Marguerite E. Peaslee Elementary School. “Peaslee considers him part of the staff. He takes the time to get to know each and everyone in the building. He started doing the D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program at Peaslee when I started teaching here, which was 17 years ago. He’s told the children, ‘Officers are your friends. We are not someone to fear.’ I think that it’s important to know that they should not be afraid of police officers.”
This was certainly evident in the D.A.R.E. lesson Feb. 25 for Peaslee fifth-graders. All eyes were on Martin as he began: “Hello boys and girls. If we get through this lesson on time, I will be able to do a handcuff demonstration with you at the end.”
With Martin leading, all sang a song that they had learned previously in unison: “I don’t know but I’ve been told. I don’t know but I’ve been told. Using drugs are for lost souls.”
Then Martin grabbed the “D.A.R.E. Box” – a big box of anonymous questions from the students – and uses them to open discussions and test them on what they have learned.
At a time when being a police officer may seem like a thankless profession, Martin said he feels blessed to work in such a supportive department that treats him well and rewards him for his efforts. He recently received the AAA Traffic Safety Hero Award and was honored at the Southern New England AAA Traffic Safety Awards Luncheon at the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester. Northborough Police Chief Mark Leahy said that he nominated Martin for his tireless work with car seat installation, traffic enforcement and his outstanding work with a pedestrian and biker safety crosswalk program in downtown Northborough.
Leahy described Martin as “a remarkable young man with an absolutely incredible work ethic.”
Leahy also praised Martin’s dedication to his continuing education in both the D.A.R.E. and certified child car seat safety programs. He mentioned that there was a minor tweak in the recommended car seat installment, and that Martin contacted residents who he had helped over the past year to let them know of the change. “That is just how dedicated Phil is,” Leahy said.
Martin’s said it is the highlight of day is when he is recognized around town by older kids or young adults that remember him as their D.A.R.E. officer. On a recent courthouse visit, he met a young district attorney who recognized him. He described that feeling as “priceless.”
Others in the community find his work priceless as well. In a recent statement, Northborough Cubmaster Jim Ares commended Martin’s dedication to his Scouts.
“Throughout the many years, Officer Phil has welcomed hundreds of Scouts to the Police Department and we thank him for his generosity and professionalism. He provides a solid role model of what a police officer represents and we as a town are fortunate to have him a part of our community.”
One Northborough resident recently said that he was particularly invaluable to her in a domestic violence situation. She described him as not only compassionate, but also extremely competent at executing what needed to be done from a legal perspective. She wanted it to be known that he is an excellent advocate for domestic violence victims.
Martin is making a difference in the Town of Northborough and does it with a smile on his face.
“Phil could be in the middle of a blizzard with a major accident backup and if I ask him how he is doing he will always say. ‘I am wonderful, chief!’” Leahy noted. “He is a pleasure to work with and we are very fortunate to have Phil as a patrolman in Northborough.”