APD’s LaTesha Watson Named ‘Rising Star’ at Inspired Women Luncheon
By Sarah Bahari
Posted on November 07, 2016, November 07, 2016

Women Luncheon

Just three months after giving birth to her daughter, LaTesha Watson was running sprints and climbing walls as a police academy recruit.

Today, Watson is the youngest deputy chief in the history of the Arlington Police Department, where she is known for a tireless work ethic, passion for education and mentorship to young women.

In honor of her dedication, Watson was named the recipient of the 2016 Rising Star Award by the Women's Alliance of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

The annual award recognizes a professional woman who has achieved extraordinary results early in her career by demonstrating strong leadership, a commitment to positive change and a desire to have a lasting impact on the well-being of others in the community.

"Sometimes, young girls tell me they want to grow up and be like me," Watson told attendees Friday at the Chamber's Inspired Women Luncheon and Awards Ceremony. "I tell them they can be just like me. They just have to work hard. I am a living example of hard work."

Growing up, Watson planned to pursue a career as an attorney, but she soon found herself interested in law enforcement while studying criminal justice in college. She earned a bachelor's in criminal justice and master's degree in criminology, both from the University of North Texas.

Watson joined the Arlington Police Department as an officer in 2002, drawn to the agency in part for its emphasis on education. She was promoted to sergeant in 2006 and lieutenant in 2011, and in 2014, she became the youngest deputy chief in age and tenure in the department's history.

Working in a male-dominated profession has delivered a few challenges, she said.

"Working the overnight shift there were not a whole lot of females. It took a while for me to get accepted by the men," Watson said. "I really had to show them what I could do."

Watson has served in numerous capacities, including patrol, property and evidence and as an executive officer for SWAT.

The chief now oversees the city's East Police Division and was recently recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as part of its Top 40 under 40 Emerging Law Enforcement Leaders.

Arlington Police Sgt. Jennifer Rhodes, who nominated Watson for the Rising Star Award, said Watson provides a positive role model to young women officers and those considering careers in law enforcement.

"Chief Watson is always willing to help and will give you everything she has to offer," Rhodes said. "There is never anything phony about her. She is the real thing. She has achieved so much through hard work, and that's an inspiration to a lot of people."

Even as she climbed the ranks of the police department, Watson has continued to advance her own education, earning a Ph.D of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. She is now working on a second PH.D in International Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Watson thanked her husband, Ralph Watson Jr., her two children, Alena, 15, and Thorne, 7, and her parents for their love and support.

Also honored at the Inspired Women Luncheon and Awards Ceremony was Judge Mary Tom Cravens Curnutt, who was named the 2016 Hero Award Recipient. The Hero Award recognizes a woman with demonstrated leadership capabilities who has the desire and commitment to make a greater contribution within our community by her pursuit, courage, enthusiasm and zeal.

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