I first met Tom Martin in 2006 when I profiled him for The Coast. What intrigued me then was his passion for solving unsolved – seemingly un-solve-able – crimes. William Shrubsall, Kimberly McAndrew…
That passion earned him 2001 Police Officer of the Year honours, but cost him his health. Even after two heart attacks and on long-term disability, however, Martin pored over case files, searching for that clue, that new way of thinking about a detail that could solve a crime.
Three years later, I wrote about him again. By then, he’d retired, so he could speak openly about why he believes Halifax has one of Canada’s highest unsolved murder rates.
The officers at the top, he argues, don’t have the major-crime investigative experience to provide boots-on-the-ground leadership.
Martin came under fire for his comments, but he didn’t back down. My impression is he had the support of most of the cops on the street.
Fast forward to this month.
New crime statistics are released. Thirteen homicides this year. No charges yet in eight. There are currently 57 unsolved murders on the books in Halifax, plus 13 missing persons, several of those almost certainly homicides.
In similar-sized London, Ont., there is one unsolved murder.
What does Martin think?
Policing, he tells me, “is also a community problem … The mayor and council should play significant roles.”
Council, he suggests, could create citizen advisory committees that would focus on crime in their own neighbourhoods. “Who is the witness of a major crime likely to speak to? Someone they know and respect in the community? Or to the police?” The mayor, he says, needs to lead.
So… is he running for something?
Martin acknowledges he’s been asked to run for mayor, and is “seriously considering it.” Despite his policing background, he says, “with confidence,” he would not be a one-issue candidate.
Though he’s never been an elected politician – a plus? – Martin was Sheila Fougere’s campaign manager in the last mayoralty election. So he’s not a political neophyte.
With Peter Kelly committed to running, Mike Savage preparing to announce and Howard Epstein a possibility, this could be the most interesting mayoralty race in years.
Let the race begin.