The Officer Gregory Alia award, awarded each fall at our Knight of Honor Gala, recognizes officers who have demonstrated excellence in community service. We checked in with Sgt. Lori Tumlin from the Forest Acres Police Department to see what she has been up to since she won the award in 2016.
It has been two years since you received the award. Looking back, what was that experience like for you?
I think back to that night and remember being so full of joy to see the community and police officers come together to celebrate. It was a grand celebration of the “Greg Alia” spirit of policing. I was in pure bliss seeing and listening to the interactions and stories being told about making a difference and being appreciated. This was the first time (in my 20 years of experience) I had ever seen police officers being spotlighted for their positive impacts in their community. It was a bit uncomfortable, for myself, because it never crossed my mind being awarded for doing my job. I truly honor this award and hold it close to my heart.
You were one of Greg’s mentors. How would you describe what he was like as a police officer?
Greg was one of the most professional and fair officers. He was knowledgeable and he was an up and coming leader of this department. He was private with a lot of his interactions but the community was not. People, in the Forest Acres community, would often come up to me and talk about an officer who took that extra minute with them, an officer that was professional and courteous and cared about what was happening to them. When I would ask the officer’s name some could remember Greg’s name and others would physically describe the officer and there would be no doubt it was Greg.
You are well-known in your community as someone who truly cares and gives back. What is a moment when you felt you truly made an impact?
I don’t think it has been one particular event that has made the greater difference. I believe when you truly care about people they can tell. It’s not waiting to get called upon; it’s going out and looking for ways to help. It can be as simple as helping someone get out of a parking space in a busy parking lot, calming a visibly nervous person before their court procedure or changing a light bulb for an elderly resident. There is so much we can do every day and there are so many of us who do it. These are the thing we never think twice about, we don’t share these stories because who would care to hear these uninteresting events. Well, I have to say, in my experience here in Forest Acres, these simple acts of kindness have meant so much to so many.
What about your job do you most love?
I love having made connections in the community over the years. I have had residents stop by to tell me they are getting married or having a baby. I have a few that have brought by their new born babies for me to see and they continue to visit. I get to see these kids grow up and I get to really know them. They draw us pictures and bake us cookies. There have been times they have stopped to talk not so pleasant topics. I feel like our community trusts us and that, to me, is a huge compliment to the work we are doing. This department allows me to be a part of a great community. I love the relationship that I have with other officers. They are my extended family.
What is the key to connecting with community?
It is as simple as one word, CARING. When you truly care, people recognize it. Caring is like a seed that grows trust and when you have trust, the walls come down, the honesty is welcomed and changes are made.