Public Safety Beat: Danny Martinez ’82, Chief

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY | Each month, LMU This Week will profile a member of LMU Public Safety. This month, get to know Chief Danny Martinez, LMU Class of 1982. His family has three generations of LMU alumni, including father Jerry, MBA ’83, and son Joey ’19.

How did you transition from being an LMU undergrad to your career? Did you always want to be in law enforcement?
I was a business major at LMU, and wanted to start my own business [after graduation]. I started a small company with a friend who graduated from Long Beach State. We had a lot of fun, but once we got married and had kids we had to let it go in favor of jobs that paid the bills. After a few stints in retail, insurance, and aerospace, I began my 24-year career with the FBI. I’ve been a lifelong LMU basketball fan, which actually led to my career at LMU. Five years ago, I was checking the internet for the basketball schedule and saw an advertisement for an opening at DPS as an investigator. I applied for it, and here I am.

Describe your professional background, prior to LMU Public Safety.
At the FBI, I worked mostly narcotics and gangs. I was a certified undercover agent and I helped arrest two subjects on the DEA’s most-wanted list. I ended my 24 years at the FBI as the Los Angeles Undercover Coordinator. I was responsible for approving all undercover operations in the Los Angeles Division, and supervising a cadre of undercover agents — I’m still not allowed to say how many there are.

Do you have any crazy stories from your time in the FBI?
I worked the Tupac investigation and the FBI had convincing evidence pointing to the person who killed him. We had a direct witness who was a confidant and could prove who the shooter was. But the case was never presented to the courts, because an LAPD detective had promised the individual that they would not have to testify. When they found out otherwise, they declined to cooperate further. So, the case remains “unsolved.”

What are your primary responsibilities at LMU Public Safety?
I oversee Operations [the patrol officers] and Investigations.

What do you wish more Lions knew about DPS?
We are not the enemy.  We are here to ensure your time at LMU is a safe one.

What’s a fond memory you have from your undergraduate time at LMU?
I met many friends, many of whom I am still in contact with.

What do you like to do outside of work?
When I was younger, I played basketball, soccer, including one year on the LMU men’s team, and baseball.  Now that I am older, I am an avid golfer and Pickleball player, which is sort of like paddle tennis. My wife and I enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, and attending concerts, music from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.

Any goals for 2020?
I’ve already decided my New Year’s resolution will be to attend Mass more often, with my goal being every week. I want to break par on the golf course, and of course I want to get in better shape. Professionally, I want to have officers cross trained, I would like the LMU community to regain their confidence in us, and I would like to develop a closer relationship with the student body.