Justo SantosJoselyn Martinez' father was murdered when she was just a kid. Fast forward 26 years, and the now grown up Martinez is getting slapped on the back by NYPD for tracking down the man suspected of shooting her dad in cold blood. And all it took was an Internet browser and $280.
It's a story that seems ripe for a TV movie, isn't it? Good thing Joselyn, named for her father Jose, is an actress.
An actress who studied political science at NYU and once dreamed of being a prosecutor, but still, she's "just" an actress who managed to do what the cops couldn't: snag a guy who has been on the run for 26 years, running from a murder charge.
Some are using this story to bash the police today.
If only it were that simple.
The cops did do their jobs here. Way back in November of 1986, they investigated the shooting of Jose Martinez at his restaurant and identified a then 16-year-old named Justo Santos as their suspect. Unfortunately, Santos fled for the Dominican Republic, and well, if you've read much about criminal justice in this country, you know that law enforcement is often overwhelmed with cases and understaffed. Just Google "rape kit backlog" if you really want to have your eyes opened.
This could be a story about what the police did wrong.
I tend to think it's more a story of what Joselyn Martinez did right.
She loved her dad, was daddy's little girl. She wanted justice for him. So she got online. She spent some money on background websites. She tracked down the man cops think shot her dad. Santos has been arrested in Florida, and he's expected to be sent back to New York soon.
Should we have to solve crimes for the cops? No, we shouldn't.
But then, we shouldn't have 20-year-old men who walk into school buildings and murder innocent children or nannies killing their charges or 16-year-olds who shoot fathers at their restaurants.
We could all sit around and complain about our lot in life. Plenty of people do it on social media every day.
Or we could get off our butts and try to do something about it. That's what Joselyn Martinez did. She turned on her computer and got to work. And this actress, this civilian with none of the police tools, got her mission accomplished.
She got justice for her dad.
Hers is the story we need to tell today, the story of someone who didn't just sit around waiting for things to happen for her but someone who made them happen.
If only more Americans had the same drive, what amazing things we could do ...
What would you have done in Joselyn's place?
Image via police