Chicago Police Officer Diane Martino brings a deep sense of personal mission to her work on the force. "All I ever really wanted to do was be a police officer. I was an abused kid. I wanted to help people who didn't really have a voice of their own. It's personal to me," explained the 46-year-old Chicago native, who grew up in Logan Square and graduated from Carl Schurz High School. Martino went directly from Schurz to UIC to pursue a degree at the Jane Addams College of Social Work, an effort she referred to as a "back-up plan" in case her dream of police work did not pan out.
Martino has been self-aware about her sexual orientation "my whole life," dated women beginning in high school and entered the academy as an out lesbian in a committed relationship. She says that she's never experienced discrimination from fellow officers, "you might get a little jab like 'hey Mr. Martino…,' from the older guys, just to get a reaction, but I never took it seriously," she said. "I think we have to be light about things because a lot of people aren't comfortable with your sexuality and it takes some guys time to come around to it. And they do. I've been very blessed in my situation. I haven't been exposed to any negativity from anyone I've worked with, from day one."
Martino has been an active member of LGPA/GOAL-Chicago ( Lesbian and Gay Police Association/Gay Officers Action League ) since 1992 when she learned about the organization ( then LGPA ) through an article in OUTLINES [ an earlier publication of Windy City Media/Windy City Times ] . "It blew me away. I tracked down LGPA co-founder Mary Boyle to thank her for being the voice of the LGBT officers and to find out how to get involved," she said. She will, of course, be helping out at the 14th International conference during Pride Week.
Martino, who transitioned from patrol to administrative duty in 2000 due to back surgery, was one of the first membersand one of the first openly gay officerson the force's citywide bike team. "It was the best summer of my career," said Martino of the May-November 1996 assignment during which she logged almost 1,800 miles patrolling the lakefront.
Find out much more about Diane Martinoincluding her home lifeonline at www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com .