After spending more than three decades with the city of Perryville, longtime code enforcement officer Joe Martin will officially retire Friday, June 4.
Martin has been the city’s code enforcement officer since 2010, when it became a police position.
“I basically take care of everything the street officers don’t,” Martin said.
The enforcement issues — watching the height of grass, people not maintaining their property, abandoned vehicles, derelict buildings — provide a daily variety of things to keep up with, Martin noted.
“It varies from day to day,” he said.
Though 2020 may not have been a normal year — Martin missed nearly three months after a vehicle accident — Martin said he’s averaged sending 800 letters regarding enforcement issues annually for several years.
Martin joined the Perryville Police Department as a patrolman in 1986. He had been the jail administrator for Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Department, and served in the U.S. Air Force. It’s been a career in law enforcement, which has spanned 42 years.
“It has been a great honor to serve the city and its residents as a commissioned police officer for the last 34 years,” Martin said. “I learned a lot and saw a lot during the 23 years I worked as a patrolman, corporal and then sergeant. Like all emergency workers, I have some great memories, and some things I wish I could forget.”
Martin is proud of the experience and accomplishments over the years.
“I’m proud of the work I’ve done to enforce our nuisance laws,” Martin said. “I have been able to eliminate most of the dilapidated and dangerous buildings that once littered the city, and when visitors come to our town they always comment how beautiful it is.”
Nuisances including derelict-unlicensed vehicles, excessive weed growth and not obtaining licenses are the violations which have generated the most fines for the city over the years, according to Martin.
“The thing that I think most people would find surprising is that I’ve arrested people who ended up going to prison who were more polite and cooperative than some of the people I’ve sent letters requesting that they comply with simple good-neighbor laws.”
The job has involved time in court as well. The amount has changed from month to month.
After a violation is reported or observed, a notice is sent to the residence or property owner. Once the individual is notified of the violation, they are given a minimum of 10 days, per ordinance, to correct the issue. If the issue is not addressed, a summons is issued for the person responsible for the infraction to appear in municipal court, Martin noted.
“The majority of my tickets issued plead guilty and pay the fines after correcting the violation,” Martin said. “If not, I appear at a bench trial and testify on behalf of the city of Perryville.”
Martin said he will miss his colleagues at the police department and city hall.
“I have worked with some great people who also take great pride in serving the community,” he said.
With retirement eminent, Martin says he remains proud to be a Perryville resident.
“I have had the pleasure of watching our community grow into a beautiful city that I’m proud to call home,” Martin said. “I consider myself beyond blessed to have a career that gave me opportunities to help others, to keep our city streets safe and clean, and to provide so well for my family.
Martin plans to enjoy retirement with his wife, Kate, traveling, gardening and spending time with their children (two sons, and a foster daughter) and five grandchildren.
Though his final day full-time will be June 4, Martin will still assist the city with code enforcement issues at least one day a week until a replacement can be hired.
“Whether in the Air Force or as a police officer, officer Joe Martin has spent parts of six decades making the world safer for the rest of us,” said Perryville city administrator Brent Buerck. “We appreciate all that he has given over his career. Perryville is better for his service.”