On the frontlines of campus security: Yatara Martin

Yatara Martin

Whether at a basketball game or walking the LU campus on foot patrol, Yatara Martin is content doing what she loves, where she loves – providing security for the students, faculty and staff of her alma mater.

The Beaumont native and Central High School graduate received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She started her LU career in the Criminal Investigations Unit as a specialist and worked her way up to sergeant of the Lamar University Police Department.

“I enjoy interacting with the students and the faculty and staff,” said Yatara. “It’s nice walking around seeing students on campus and letting them know I’m here if they need anything. I have a good relationship with students and they ask me questions, which is great. Most of their questions aren’t even crime related.”

Day to day, Yatara is easily identified by her uniform and her hat (Hats became a part of the LUPD uniform recently.), walking the campus on foot patrol. However, she also patrols the surrounding neighborhood and monitors traffic on campus and around it.

“My main goal is campus and providing safety for students, faculty and staff. I walk a lot of buildings and I work events, get to know organizations and the faculty and staff involved in those, too.”

Yatara, a mother of three girls and a new grandmother, finds pride in being a part of a young person’s life through the transition from childhood to adulthood.

“I’ve always loved working with children and by being here I work with both adults and those going into adulthood. I like seeing new freshmen who are ready to live life and to interact with them and then see them four years later graduating. That’s awesome to see.”

What Yatara hates to see is young people making poor decisions that require police involvement.

“The most challenging thing about my job is seeing a student make the wrong decision. The law is the law and so they have to suffer the consequences. I always let them know – ‘deal with this, learn from it, change your life and continue on a more positive track.’ Most of the time students are running with the wrong crowd and get in situations they normally wouldn’t have been in if not for their peers.”

Recent events across the country have also been upsetting to Yatara, who says she is “heartbroken” but doesn’t fear that LU will have to deal with racial strife.

“I feel like we do a good job of being fair and consistent with how we manage the campus and enforce the law. Racism doesn’t play a part in our decisions. We don’t target race, any person or any group. We try and treat everyone fairly and exactly the same as everyone else.”

All LUPD officers have body cameras, attend annual training and work together to hold one another accountable.

“We activate body cameras during encounters. Those are helpful because they help everyone. They help us provide the story of what actually happened. We must continue our training and hold everyone accountable.”

Yatara’s mission to maintain a safe campus environment has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s been charged with monitoring the dorms, buildings and walking the campus to ensure nothing is awry.

“I’ve been on campus the whole time. LUPD has not stopped working and it feels good to still be here and to still be working during this crazy time.”

But Yatara has missed basketball. Men and women’s basketball games are always events Yatara signs up to work because she loves watching the LU Cardinals play hoops. Yatara especially loved watching the women’s basketball team during the 2018-2019 season when they won the Southland Conference regular season championship.

“Watching basketball is my favorite LU Moment. I request to go to the events to work them but I sure like watching the game.”

Second to watching the LU Cardinals score in the Montagne Center, Yatara appreciates gratefulness for the work she does.

“Just to know that I’m here and I make a difference on campus is important to me. There have been many situations where I had to assist students when they needed help, and they tell me 'thank you.'

When “normal” returns, Yatara is going to attend basketball games and take her three girls and her new grandbaby on a trip – anywhere. Spending time with them is her hobby.

“They take up all of my time. The moment they know I’m off, they have my days planned for me. Because their spring break was interrupted and we’ll not have much of a summer to travel, I owe them some trips.”


Category: Features

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