The Tustin Police Department’s newest officers, Lauren Tharp and Chase Bowen, enter police work from two different worlds, yet they share a commitment to public safety.
“Through guidance and supervision, I have no doubt both officers will have long, successful careers,” says Sgt. Robert Nelson, their supervisor. “As every agency struggles to find candidates, Tustin residents are fortunate to have these two officers excited and ready to serve their community.”
Officer Lauren Tharp: a female perspective forged in grit
Officer Tharp, 37, had a 10-year career in insurance sales before pursuing a surprising career change. A friend with the Fullerton Police Department had told her agencies were seeking recruits in all age groups.
“I thought you needed to have a military background to work as a police officer,” Tharp says. “My friend was a mentor to me; I did ride-alongs with police in different cities and made sure it was what I wanted to do.”
“I hated sitting at a desk in my last job,” she adds. “I love to be outside, working with the public, and putting bad guys away.”
As a second career, police work offers longevity and a community setting, opportunities Tharp appreciates. After beginning her career in a different agency, she transferred to the Tustin Police Department in July 2022. She says Tustin PD offers excellent training and a strong dedication to community service.
“The job is physically demanding,” she said. “The police academy was tough on people half my age.”
With perseverance, she graduated from the academy and now is dedicated to maintaining a lifetime of physical fitness. In addition, the training helped her develop internal discipline.
“I learned mental toughness, and not to let my emotions get the best of me,” she said.
Based on his observations, Sgt. Nelson says, “Officer Tharp appears grateful and fortunate to be here, where she can be a proactive officer with a lot of commonalities with other patrol officers.”
Tharp believes she, like other women, brings a level of compassion and understanding to her work as a police officer.
“You can get people to trust you more readily as a woman,” she says, perhaps especially during domestic violence calls.
“In working with male partners, they can see the difference in how we handle situations,” she observes. “Having both male and female perspectives on the job provides a good balance.”
The Tustin Police Department’s camaraderie is one of the things Tharp loves best about her work. Ultimately, she says, she would like to pursue work as a detective or with the department’s canine unit.
Officer Chase Bowen: enthusiasm born of a lifelong dream
Officer Bowen, 24, is fresh out of the academy and eager to begin his career. One thing he’s quickly learning is that there are multiple perspectives for any given challenge.
“There are a million ways to handle every situation,” Bowen explains. “There’s a lot of thought that goes into it… The ability to problem-solve, think critically, and continue to learn will lead to the most beneficial ways of solving issues.”
As a child, Bowen recalls, “all I ever wanted to do was be a police officer.” Today, he is committed to community service with a passion for helping the less fortunate. He believes he has found an excellent fit with the scope and philosophy of the Tustin Police Department.
“Because of the size, everyone in the department knows each other’s names and gets along,” Bowen says.
With a degree in criminal justice from Grand Canyon University, he aims to eventually join the Tustin PD’s drug enforcement detail.
“I’ve seen how drugs can tear families and relatives apart,” he says.
Through guidance and supervision, Nelson says, “Officer Bowen is learning the intricacies of this profession with and among other brand-new officers.”
Bowen is proud of a recent bicycle stop, during which a large amount of narcotics were found.
“I’m pleased that I was able to take drugs off the street – we made some progress in that area,” he says. In addition, he notes, there’s a keen misunderstanding among the public about the policing profession, and he appreciates the moments of clarity he is able to offer while speaking with Tustin residents.
“When patrolling schools or parks by foot, I’m pleased when people ask questions about what we do,” he says. “Healing in the community is so important right now.”
New officers welcome community interaction
Both officers encourage Tustin residents to approach police officers with their questions and needs.
“Especially in this city,” Bowen notes, “we have a group of employees and officers that are so caring and focused in protecting the community. It’s really good to see.”
After emergency situations, Tharp says, many people question what they should have done.
“We tell them, ‘when you see something, say something,’” she says. “We want to stop crime from happening. If it’s not an emergency, call the department’s non-emergency line.”
The department reaches out consistently, she adds, through community events throughout the year, as well as the annual open house and regularly scheduled Coffee With a Cop events.
“If you have questions, come on up. If we’re too busy to talk, we’ll let you know,” Tharp says.