LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- It's not often police officers get thanked by someone they've arrested - but one local woman is crediting an officer in Long Beach with helping to get her life back on track.
It was a reunion five years in the making. The last time Tiffany Hall saw Lt. Jim Foster, she was a drug addict. Now, she is about to graduate from college.
"I want to thank Lt. Jim Foster for his respect and his compassion and the empathy that he showed to me and anyone he came in contact with," Hall said as the two saw each other for the first time in years Wednesday.
Hall said Foster was always trying to get her to change her life and also offering her encouragement even though he was often the one taking her to jail.
"He would encourage me all the time. 'Tiffany, you can do better than this. Tiffany, why don't you try to go to school. Tiffany, why don't you stop,'" Hall recalls.
Hall surprised Foster at the Long Beach Police Department headquarters. For the lieutenant, seeing Hall's transformation was hard to measure with words.
"The biggest joy of my professional career is from time to time having contact with people who have found their way out of horrible circumstances and into life's success, things that a lot of us just take for granted for people who have a much rougher life story," Foster said.
Hall said it was when she hit rock bottom that Foster's words of encouragement really sunk in and forced to change her life.
"I tell myself every day, 'Don't look back behind you, because there's nothing back there. You've got to keep looking forward,'" Hall said.
She graduates from college next month and has asked the lieutenant to join her - something Foster says he wouldn't miss for the world.
After graduating, Hall wants to become a social worker so she can give back the same type of hope and encouragement that Foster gave to her.