Born and raised in New Orleans, the trajectory of Martin Cobbinah’s life changed at age 14.
His father worked for Universal Life Insurance Company, one of the largest black-owned insurance companies at the time, and moved to Kansas City.
“His office was near 28th & Prospect,” Cobbinah noted. “As a teenager, I used to visit him. This area was familiar to me because I frequented his office.
Just a block from his father’s old workplace, Cobbinah is now the new major of the East Patrol Division (where he was once a captain). For him, nothing surpasses the well-being of the relationship between his officers and the community they serve. It is a partnership that he intends to promote.
“I want the community to come out and see us,” Cobbinah said. “I tell my officers to stop parking behind a building to write your report or have lunch. Sit down the block and let people see you. So whether you’re driving down the street or sitting on the block, they see you and you see them. They want us there.
Cobbinah’s journey to residency at East Patrol began in 1990 when he was accepted into the police academy. He admits that he knew nothing about the police at the time, but he had a child on the way and was tired of his fast-food job.
An ad in the newspaper caught his eye, but even then KCPD almost never happened.
“I was on my way to the naval recruiter’s office to sign my paperwork to join the Navy,” Cobbinah recalled. “I stopped at the mailbox on the way, and in there was my police academy admission letter. I had a decision to make. The police department won. They were the first to say yes.”
The path to the rank of major, Cobbinah believes, began with a temporary assignment in the Deputy Unit. Recognized for his work there, Cobbinah was assigned as an undercover agent in the Street Narcotics Unit where, he says, he was educated and shown leadership traits.
Since then, Cobbinah has held various positions ranging from the Police Athletic League (PAL), the most challenging and rewarding phase of his career, to linking up with City.
Drawing on her experiences and the opportunity to lead the East Patrol, Cobbinah keeps things simple.
“I want to be seen as approachable,” Cobbinah said. “If I can’t route the solution, I should be able to route them to someone who can. Our goal is to provide the resources to solve problems in the best possible way”.