#PRESENTWOMAN – THERESA EVATT
I am eager to share this interview with you. I met Theresa “randomly” during the thirteen months I was working as a police officer with the Franklin, TN Police Department.
Theresa still to this day periodically checks in with me to tell me she is praying for me. We exchange pleasantries and catch up and then go about our daily lives. I look forward to those small, yet significant moments.
A lot of people have asked me why I chose to be a cop. Theresa Evatt and people like her are the reason I made this choice.
As my consistent readers know, my parents often get most of the credit for who I am today.
I would be remiss however, to leave people like Theresa out of this equation. She has truly shown genuine friendship, an eager spirit, and the ability to be an easy confidant. Theresa signed up for the Citizens Police Academy, hosted by FPD. As you’ll read part of the curriculum is the opportunity to ride with an officer if the student desires. They are asked to ride only part of the shift to respect the time of the officer. However, our ride lasted the full shift due to the connection we instantly made.
Enjoy our story…
Joshua Koch: Why did you sign up for Citizens Police Academy?
Theresa Evatt: Several years ago, I had a neighbor who participated in CPA. I remember the stories he told me about it and knew that one day I had to do it also. I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement and thought this would give me the insight into what actually goes on and how things work behind the scenes of what we don’t normally get to see.
Joshua Koch: What were your thoughts before the ride along?
Thersa Evatt: My ride along was done towards the end of the academy program. The first night of class we were given the option to sign up if we were interested. The ride along was probably what I was most looking forward to from the beginning. I was hoping the night would bring many calls so I would be able to see and experience what a police officer went through on a normal shift.
My friends and family asked if I was scared to go, with a few saying they couldn’t do it themselves. They acknowledged they would be praying for my safety. I really had no fear about it whatsoever; in fact I was very excited for the opportunity and seriously couldn’t wait for the night to get here.
Every Thursday night in class, a classmate would give a summary of what went on during their ride along. Most rides seemed to last about three hours and were pretty non eventful. This is a good thing and a testament to the amazing City of Franklin. The night I was assigned to ride fell on the day of Cinco de Mayo and also the annual Nashville Steeplechase event. Many in my class were a little envious, thinking my ride may be full of stories to tell due to the events going on. I looked forward to the day and never once had a doubt about whether to go or not.
That day couldn’t get here fast enough.
Joshua Koch: What was your favorite part about the ride along?
Theresa Evatt: This is a hard question, I loved all of it. I am grateful for the time Joshua spent explaining the before and after of each stop that we made, what was about to happen beforehand and what would likely happen afterward, all of which gave me a greater understanding of what the officers have to do during the course of a shift. It was neat to compare and apply the knowledge we learned in class with the actual events of the night.
Overall, I think I just loved the opportunity of getting to be there and experience all of it. I have gratitude toward Joshua for taking the time and effort to show me so many different things. It can’t go without saying that I loved getting to know him, I appreciated his willingness to go out of his way to show me all the extra things that he wouldn’t normally have to do, and also his listening ear for almost ten hours.
Joshua Koch: Can you elaborate in your words what our relationship has meant over the past year and how unique of an opportunity it was for us to even meet?
Theresa Evatt: I know that there is no such thing as coincidence; God has a plan and purpose for everything.
All throughout the day prior to coming in for my ride along, I had many self-conscious thoughts. At the top of my mind I was wondering what the officer was really thinking about having a stranger in the car with him for a couple of hours while he worked. We had been prepared really well by the academy leaders about what we should expect and what to do and not do. My friends and I had prayed over this night, praying the ride along would go well, praying for safety, praying that I would be placed with the right person, and also for a good rapport with whomever I was riding with.
It was May 5, 2018 and I was asked to arrive at the station by 8:45 pm and wait outside to be called in to participate in roll call. I arrived at the station and before I got out of the car, I prayed again.
I got out of my car and made the walk up to the front doors of the station. My heart was beating in anticipation. I was originally assigned to ride with another officer. However, at the last minute, while I was sitting in roll call, I was switched and placed to ride with Joshua. I didn’t really know what to expect but I just hoped it was someone who was okay with me being along for the ride.
As the night began, I remember that Joshua asked me if there was anything I’d like to see and I remember that he said I could ride as long as I wanted. From that moment on, he truly went out of his way to show me everything he could to make the night a learning experience. It is a night I will always remember. He was so easy to talk to, I think I told him my whole life history in between stops that we made even though I told myself all day that I wouldn’t do that.
I saw in him an amazing listener and someone willing to go above and beyond. He was very gracious and accommodating in spite of having to work an overnight shift with a rider who was asking one thousand questions, which I also told myself I wouldn’t do. It meant a lot to me because I had looked forward to that night for quite a while. There is a saying that goes “you may forget what someone said, you may forget what they did, but you’ll never forget how they made you feel.” While I don’t remember many details about the ride along as far as calls go, I will never forget how gracious Joshua was towards me. That was a normal work night for him, but it was a big deal to me.
Toward the end of the night, he told me he was moving from Franklin back to Indiana. I drove home that morning after my ride thinking about how awesome it was, how gracious he had been, and the reality that I probably wouldn’t see him again. I remember that I felt a little sadness. I felt like within only ten hours, I had made a friend that I may never talk to again.
Three weeks later the Citizens Police Academy held a nice graduation ceremony for all of us who participated. I went by myself because my husband had to be out of town that night. I walked into the room and I was totally surprised, Joshua was standing at the door, in his suit and tie, there to celebrate the graduation. I had no idea he would be there, but it meant a lot to me. I knew he had to be very busy during those weeks, getting ready to make a move out of town, working the night shift, and also having a family. Yet he took the time to come. He was the only officer from a ride along that came and that didn’t go unnoticed by many people in the class.
Joshua has since moved from Franklin, but I am grateful to have been able to stay in touch over the last year. Every time I pass the station or see a Franklin police officer, I think of him. Driving down Mallory Lane isn’t the same doing the speed limit as compared to speeding with the blue lights on. I talk about the CPA with a lot of people, and Joshua is always a big part of that conversation.
When I am in a serving situation, I will always strive to have a servant’s heart, much as he did showing graciousness and leading by example.
Joshua, I am so thankful for you and feel blessed that the Lord put you in my life. Thank you again for all that you did.
Joshua Koch: Can you tell me a little more about yourself, your family etc?
Theresa Evatt: I have been married for thirty years to Scott and we have two children, Katie (27) and Matthew (24). Scott is a pilot for American Airlines and owns a logistics company, Katie is a nurse practitioner working in cardiology, and Matthew graduates this summer from college with plans to become an airline pilot as well. I am a cancer survivor, love to cook, travel far to try new restaurants, and you will most often find me with either a cup of coffee or a glass of peach tea. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of prayer for all things. Never ever give up.
MY NOTE TO YOU
Theresa, now it is my turn. I have worked thousands of hours in a police cruiser and answered many calls for service I’ll never remember and many I’ll never forget. Included in that list of shifts I will never forget are my ten hours with you.
The excitement, eagerness, and respect you brought to the ride along were special and appreciated. You said many nice things in your answers but I must tell you, the joy I received from having you ride with me was far greater for me than you may realize.
It is true, police officers, for the most part, see and meet people on the worst days of their lives. Since that is a fact, common sense tells us we see things people aren’t typically conditioned to see. It is very easy to lump the 98% of non-criminal society into the 2% we deal with.
Having someone with your spirit show interest and appreciation in the work we do was life giving. I will never forget the way you made me feel either. On top of that, I never take for granted your random text messages to check on me and I cherish any opportunity I get to speak with you.
The offer is still on the table and will always stand…you make it up to Indiana and I will take you for another ride along.
Thank you for letting me honor you this way.
As you may recall I wrote a highlight on a friend of mine named Abby. You can read her story here.
I also wrote a highlight of one of my favorite teachers and second mom growing up. You can read her story here.
My recent highlight was my beautiful sister Nicole Hedrick. You can read her story here.
In His Grip,
Joshua Koch – Contributor