Sergeant Martin Ruiz did not start off in law enforcement. In fact, he used to be a barber.
“I did several jobs before that, but I was actually a barber for 10 years,” said Ruiz, who got into the hair-cutting business after getting talked into it by his ex-wife.
Ruiz was always interested in police work though and was taking night classes when former Copperas Cove Police Chief Roy Osborne walked into his barber shop. After one of the employees told the chief Ruiz was taking law enforcement night classes, Osborne said he liked Ruiz’s personality and told him to apply for a job.
“Sure enough, I did my application and got hired,” he said.
Ruiz, 49, has been in law enforcement for more than 12 years and is the new public information officer for the Cove police department. Starting off in patrol, he said the best thing about all of his jobs was talking with people.
“Everybody has a story, that’s what I like about it. Even when I was on patrol, you always find something else about (people),” he said.
Someone who eventually wants to serve in all divisions, Ruiz said he initially became interested in the public information office after heading up the Assistant Police Academy last year.
“We didn’t have a PIO (at the time), and I was kind of uncertain myself because I know the details of it, but once it got going, it went smooth,” he said.
Ruiz said he was initially afraid of public speaking. Although fine when talking to people one on one, he used to get nervous whenever he made presentations. Ruiz went to several public speaking and leadership classes over the course of three years to get more comfortable.
“What they said I did is I walked in one place,” Ruiz said, demonstrating how he used to walk in tiny half-circles while giving a presentation.
After seeing himself on film doing it, however, the habit stopped pretty quickly.
One thing Ruiz said he hopes to do while in the PIO position is better bind other area PIOs together so they can jointly work on community events.
“We have the torch run coming up on (Tuesday) and I’m already talking to (Killeen Police Department) ... but I know a lot of other agencies don’t really get involved with that,” he said.
Ruiz is responsible for community events and providing information to the media.
Former interim public information officer for the Copperas Cove Police Department, Sgt. Julie Lehmann, is out on medical leave and will return to patrol duty.