NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A San Juan County Sheriff’s Office detective went above and beyond the call of duty for a fellow detective in his biggest time of need. Retired Los Angeles Police Department officer and detective Bill Martin lost his wife last month and it was going to be more than a week before the 80-year-old’s family could get to him. That’s when Det. Mike Rietz stepped in to help.
“We got a call of an in-home death and so I responded to that. The call was made by Mr. Martin,” said Det. Rietz. “I went over there and made contact with him and that’s how we first met.”
Martin was a retired detective of the LAPD. Now living in Blanco, just east of Farmington and Bloomfield, he had just lost his wife, Bobbi. “In having conversations with him, it became clear that he had short-term memory problems,” said Rietz. “He needed help over that week. He didn’t really have anybody that would take care of him.”
Happening right before Christmas, Rietz was called to help. When he found out Martin’s family couldn’t make it out from Florida right away, he stepped in — from celebrating Christmas with Martin to making sure he had enough meals.
“Couple of times, I made him breakfast. One day I brought him McDonald’s big breakfast which apparently he knows about because he lit up when he saw that,” said Rietz. “Every day I went over there for about an hour and just talked to him and listened to his stories. He had great memory of 30-40 years ago. He just didn’t have great memory of 30-40 minutes ago.”
Martin’s stepson and Bobbi’s son, Ray Kranich, says the family was touched by the kindness through this tough time. He says the SJCSO detective went “above and beyond the call of duty.”
“The motto of the Los Angeles Police Department is to protect and serve and Mike is the epitome of a great police officer that is serving his community,” said Kranich. “I admire him greatly for it and he’s a wonderful man.”
It’s the reason the sheriff’s office is now honoring Rietz for his service to Martin and his family. On Thursday, he received a Certificate of Exceptional Service for his continued concern and empathy after responding to Martin’s call for help. “It’s cool to point out some of the stuff we do in law enforcement that isn’t related to criminal activity,” said Rietz. “There are a lot of law enforcement officers that care deeply about their community.”
Kranich said they made the decision not to put Martin in a nursing home, and instead, brought him back to Florida to live with his family. He says while Martin’s memory sometimes fades and he forgets what happened, they still tell stories about his time with Rietz.
This isn’t the first award SJCSO handed out this week. Earlier this week, Deputy Donnie Kee was honored after helping repair a homeowner’s fence after a drunk driver went through it. SJCSO says in lieu of their awards banquet this year which had to be canceled due to COVID, they will share similar stories from the office over the next few weeks.