Tamesha Forrest never in a million years would have believed that she would grow up to be a police officer. She wasn’t one of those kids who dreamed of chasing bad guys or wearing a badge. She graduated from Lufkin High School in 1990 and was a majorette in the band. She was more interested in early childhood and even got a Child Development Associate degree from Angelina College to work at one of her parent’s childcare centers where she was happily employed for 11 years.
Officer Forrest said, “Being a police officer was not on my radar. I looked at the Navy but went into early childhood. My parents had three daycare centers at the time.”
She married a fireman with the Lufkin Fire Department and listening to his scanner provided the motivation she needed to apply for a dispatcher job at the police department.
“I would listen to the scanner at night and hear him on calls. I thought ‘I want to do that’. It was a lengthy process that took three months to get hired and then 16 weeks of training,” she said.
While working nights from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. as a dispatcher, she felt like she never got to hear the end of the story. She would talk on the phone to people who needed help, but never knew what happened to the caller. It was that curiosity that led her to apply to the Police Academy at age 36.
“(Working dispatch) there was not a lot of closure. You may get a call about a fire and never know how it ends. You might get a meth call and not know how it ends. It intrigued me to want to be a police officer. I love what I do,” she said.
She worked full-time as a dispatcher and would go to the Academy during the day. She had been with the Lufkin Police Department for a total of nine years, when she took a job at Lufkin ISD as a secretary/dispatcher. After one year, a job became available as a school resource officer. A job that had both her love for children combined with her love of law enforcement.
“To me, I have the best of both worlds. I love kids, and I love law enforcement. What better job is there?” she said.
Her job starts early at 7:15 a.m., and she reports to multiple campuses a day. Her main office is on the Coston Elementary campus, but she begins her week reading to students as a HOSTS (Help One Student to Succeed) mentor at Brandon Elementary.
She said, “I love kids, and I’m able to work with them on a daily basis. I wear many hats. I help provide a safe learning environment for the students and staff. I wear a counselor hat, and sometimes I’m tying shoes and filing charges. I go from one thing to the next.”
Officer Forrest is frequently pulled into the classroom to wear her “education hat” where she talks to the kids about making good choices and helping others. She says it’s quite different work than working at Lufkin Police Department.
“We’re bridging that gap between kids, law enforcement, and the real world. We’re making a positive influence,” she said.
Away from the job, she enjoys hunting and fishing with her family. She and her husband, Brent, have been married 28 years. They graduated the same year from Lufkin High School and met at church. They have two adult children, Caleb, who followed in Officer Forrest’s footsteps as a police officer at the Lufkin Police Department and Heather who was a majorette, like her mom, in the band. She not only was a majorette, but the drum major, as well. She is now a nurse and has a daughter who is 19-months-old that Officer Forrest simply adores.
She said, “I love to travel and take the kids as a family. We love to go to Alaska. I enjoy bow hunting deer and hogs. I keep my granddaughter in the evenings while my daughter works. I like to buy her too many clothes! We also run a family business on the weekends.”
As far as being the only female on the squad, Officer Forrest loves her co-workers in blue.
She said, “These guys are my brothers. They respect my post but would help me anytime. We’re blessed with a great relationship. Across the board, Lufkin PD backs us up anyway they can, the sheriff’s department. It’s a family. You truly don’t even have to know someone; it’s a brotherhood or sisterhood. Although, they do pick on me, and I joke right back with them.”
Officer Forrest quoted a saying that would always come to her mind, ”A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
Thank you, Officer Forrest, for putting kids first and know that the world is a better place because of you.