Retiring officer takes up post more than 4,000 miles away
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Almost 30 years to the day he joined Chief Superintendent Martyn Ball is retiring from Leicestershire Police.
And although the time has come for him to hang up his Leicestershire uniform, he isn’t ready to give up the action packed career he loves just yet.
Instead Martyn is heading for warmer climates to take up a role more than 4,000 miles away – as the Superintendent of Police for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF).
A British Overseas Territory, the islands are located about an hour’s plane journey from Miami - midway between the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Chief Superintendent Martyn Ball
Martyn starts his two year role as Head of Special Operations at the start of November - just weeks after his last shift in Leicestershire on Wednesday (21 October).
And with a population across the 10 inhabited islands of around 60,000 people (around 6% of the total number of people living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland), policing in the glorious Caribbean sun is going to be very different for the 51-year-old who was born and raised in the city.
“Part of my new role will be head of the marine and aircraft units – something we don’t really have a need for here in Leicestershire!”, said Martyn.
“In some ways it’s going to be very different – the sheer size difference in population and police force, as well as some of the types of crimes I’ll have to deal with but the policing values and principals remain the same. I’m very much looking forward to the new challenges ahead.”
Alongside Martyn’s role overseeing specialist areas including the marine division, air wing, tactical unit, firearms, dogs and drones, he’ll also be coaching and mentoring officers – and with three decades in the job he has a lot of knowledge and experience to share.
Martyn followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather when he joined as a regular cop on 22 October 1990, having already spent two years as a special constable while studying at university.
His dad, former PC David Ball served with Leicestershire Police between 1961 and 1991 and his grandad joined the Corps of Military Police in 1922.
New recruit Martyn in 1990 with his dad, former PC Dave Ball
His first posting was on foot patrol in the city, based at the former Charles Street Police Station. But a desire to drive fast cars was never far from his mind and he quite quickly passed his police driving courses and headed for a job as a response officer and then working in the traffic motorway team.
As he progressed through the ranks Martyn has been stationed across many different areas and departments. As a sergeant he spent time in Wigston, Braunstone and Beaumont Leys before being promoted to inspector and becoming policing commander of Hinckley in 2007.
As a chief inspector he spent time in the south of the city before returning to the city centre – the place his career had begun more than 20 years before. As a superintendent he spent time working with many of the force’s partners before becoming Head of Professional Standards in 2015. Since January 2019, when he was promoted to chief superintendent, he’s been Head of the Specialist Support Directorate – which includes the roads policing, tactical support team and tactical dogs and firearms unit among many other specialist services.
Throughout his career Martyn has never been far away from the action packed and often dangerous side that sometimes comes with the job.
As a specialist trained firearms, football and public order commander, as well as being highly skilled in hostage negotiation he’s led countless officers on policing operations.
From English Defence League marches through the city, to the annual Download festival and Caribbean Carnival. He was even lucky enough to be the match commander on the day Leicester City won the Premier League.
Martyn and Sgt Mel Thomas at the Caribbean Carnival in 2015
In 2019 Martyn also led the firearms response during Operation Lionheart, the largest firearms operation ever carried out by the force to tackle the sale and distribution of class A drugs.
But Martyn’s policing journey hasn’t been without a few setbacks. In 1993, while on shift in the city centre, he had his right arm broken after dealing with a fight in the city. And in 1995 he was one of two officers shot at outside a nightclub – Martyn’s colleague and good friend was hit during the incident but thankfully made a full recovery.
Despite all this, one of Martyn’s biggest challenges has been recovering from an injury he sustained when on duty at the Download festival in 2016. Only his injury didn’t come as a result of an incident at the event, it happened when he fell in the mud and landed and broke his left arm and elbow – an event his friends and colleagues in the force won’t let him forget in a hurry!
As Martyn prepares to jet off for his next adventure, he looks back on his time with nothing but an immense feeling of being privileged and proud to have served the communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland for so many years.
He added: “When I joined I had no expectations of where my career would take me. I’ve always had a bit of a low boredom threshold so being a cop is a perfect job – it is so varied and no day is the same, there really isn’t any other job like it. I can honestly say I have loved every minute of it and I wouldn’t have swapped it for the world.
“From the day I joined to the day I retire I have never forgotten the oath I took – it has been a genuine privilege to have been able to serve in the place I also call home.
“And although I am looking forward to the next chapter in my policing career and some much better weather I will miss the people, the friends, I have met along the way.”