Thirty years ago, when Martin R. Ebelhardt, formerly of Randolph, majored in criminal justice at the County College of Morris (CCM), he never imagined that his career would take him to the White House and beyond.
“I had initially started my college experience at Stockton State in South Jersey,” Ebelhardt says. “I decided to come back, live at home and go to CCM because of financial issues in the family.” He quickly gravitated to the world of law enforcement and earned his Associate of Science degree in Criminal Justice in 1987.
“After I graduated from CCM, I applied and was selected for a position with the U.S. Secret Service Uniform Division in Washington D.C.,” he says. During his seven years working at the White House, he met two presidents, heads of state, and several famous entertainers and musicians.
As a member of the elite Secret Service Emergency Response Team, he helped secure the safety of the White House and surrounding areas. During his time serving in that capacity, he responded to a fatal plane crash on the White House lawn and a fence jumper with a gun. However, he notes, that sort of activity was not the norm.
“The job seems like it would be exciting, but much of the time it involves a lot of standing and waiting,” says Ebelhardt. “It is really mostly about planning for and being prepared to respond to something that will probably never happen.”
Next, he became a special agent in the Detroit office of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Part of his job involved training others and he discovered he enjoyed that aspect of his work.
“What I found was that I had a stronger interest in teaching than in chasing bad guys.” When the Air Marshal Service formed after September 11, 2001, he joined as a training and operations supervisor in Minneapolis. Today, he is the assistant supervisory air-marshal-in-charge.
His advice to students considering a career in law enforcement is to take care of their health and develop good coping mechanisms.
“There are some fairly serious demands that the career has in terms of emotional and mental wellbeing,” he advises. “I would recommend having a heavy focus on health and wellness.”
He received a bachelor’s degree in management from National Louis University in Virginia in 1991, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in human development from St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis. Once he receives that degree, Ebelhardt plans to develop a wellness course for law enforcement officers.
“I want to give officers going into the field tools to manage stress and the demands the job puts on you as a human being,” he says.