"I like Tiffany. She has a unique spirit. A lot of personality and a lot of humor, no problem saying it like it is. She has a tough exterior shell but behind it is a soft inner person......
"Tiffany grew up in a home constantly subjected to drug raids. She was taught to never trust the police. By the time she was fourteen, she had a child and was practically homeless. Her friends are gang members and addicts, and not only has she been stabbed and sexually assaulted multiple times, she's addicted to crack. I know the alleys where she goes to smoke - and sell - drugs.
"For months, I've tried to get Tiffany to trust me a little more by encouraging her. Tiffany, you're a nice person. You're funny. Tiffany, why don't you get help? Go back to school. This life you're living - it's horrible. You can do better than this."
In one incident, Foster is at a home of a brutally murdered woman. Tiffany shows up. The dead woman is her grandmother. Foster gently tells her "'You don't want to go in the house. Let us handle it. I promise, you don't want to go in there'. In that moment, something in Tiffany's face changes. I can tell she's learning that I sincerely care about her well-being."
Suddenly, Tiffany disappears. Foster doesn't hear from or see her for a long time. Then, the City of Long Beach announces they had been locating repeat criminals who had turned their life around. Tiffany is on the list. Foster is invited to a press conference:
"I figure it'll be a sit-down interview with a reporter to talk about Tiffany's inspiring story. I'm surprised to find out that TV cameras will be there, along with a speech from the mayor. Moments before the press conference is about to begin, I'm told Tiffany is also going to speak. We'll be meeting onstage, in front of a bunch of cameras and city officials. It's a lot to take in.
"After I give a short speech, Tiffany comes out of a back room, dressed in a sharp business suit. We smile when we see each other and hug. It's great to see her looking healthy and happy. Tiffany takes the podium and introduces herself.
"'I'm here because I want to thank Lieutenant Foster for his respect. And for his compassion. And for the empathy that he showed me and anyone he came in contact with'.
"She shares stories of how I encouraged her, how she listened to what I was saying and knew I was right, but her addiction was more powerful. After getting arrested, she tells the crowd, she used to sit in her cell and think about everything I told her. She surrendered and didn't look back.
"Now she's clean and sober and about to receive her master's degree in social work. She works at a rehab facility. Best of all, she's fought hard to gain custody of her grandchildren from her son, who is having problems of his own. She's determined not to let them grow up in the same atmosphere she did.
"Tiffany looks at me and, in front of the cameras, hands me an envelope. Inside is an invitation for her college graduation. 'I wouldn't miss it for the world.' Seeing Tiffany and what she's accomplished is one of the biggest joys of my professional life.
"Three days later, I get a message to call a woman named Tracey. I remember the name. She was a drug addict and a prostitute. She disappeared, and I feared the worst.
"'I saw you on TV,' Tracey says. 'Do you remember me?'
"'I do. How are you?'
"She tells me she hit rock bottom a few years ago and decided to clean up her life. She now has a successful job. 'I'm calling because I wanted you to know that Tiffany wasn't the only person you helped.'
"I think of what my father always said about being tough on crime but kind to people. Kindness. Respect. Compassion. Empathy. You never know how these simple, small acts can help someone turn their life around."
8 minutes 48 seconds - 18 minutes 10 seconds
James Patterson & Matt Eversmann, "Walk The Blue Line", Little, Brown and Company, 2023, pages 325-335
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