Just the Facts
March 08, 2018
March 08, 2018
As a Sergeant in the Dallas PD Criminal Intelligence Unit, Tasha Tell ’95, is responsible for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ safety. She supervises a team that protects him on a daily basis, and as you can imagine —her days are filled with quick decisions and stressful situations. Her path to this high-profile position isn’t typical, but then again—there’s not much about Tell that could be described as “typical.”
Tell has had a passion for justice for as long as she can remember. Even as a preschooler, if she saw a car run a stop sign or speed down her street she’d adamantly exclaim, “That person needs a ticket!”
She grew up playing sports in her hometown of Keller, Texas, and that love of athletics carried over to college. Recruited by basketball coach Rita Clay, she came to Southwestern in the fall of ’91 and played basketball. During that first year, she tore her ACL and was unable to play. That setback didn’t stop her, though. Her passion for basketball gave her the determination to rehab, and she came back to play her remaining years at SU. In fact, her athletic abilities were so apparent that she was also asked to play golf for the Pirates.
Southwestern proved to be a great fit for Tell. She describes the University, her professors, coaches, teammates, and friends as her “extended family.” However, as a first-year student, Tell had no way of knowing how much she would come to rely on that family in the years ahead.
An only child, Tell was extremely close to her mom. During her time at SU, her mom would drive down from the DFW area to watch her play basketball, do laundry, or feed her. Other times, she would go back home with her for the weekend to get a home-cooked meal or just hang out with “her best friend.” But everything changed when her mom—her rock— got sick.
A college student’s biggest worry should be about finals, or weekend plans, or preparing for job interviews. Unfortunately, Tell’s experience was much different. Her mom was diagnosed with cancer, and she passed away weeks before graduation. The experience had a deep and profound impact on Tell. She turned to her faith in God, and relied on her SU family to get her through the difficult times.
Tell graduated with a degree in Kinesiology, and was working as a trainer when a friend suggested that she consider the Police Academy. Not only was it a way to challenge herself and keep fit, but she realized that she never forgot that early passion for justice. She decided to give it a try and the rest, as they say, is history.
Tell graduated from the Police Academy in 2000 and quickly moved up the ranks. She worked patrol station, then joined the elite unit Operation Disruption where she dealt with drugs, gangs and guns on a daily basis. In 2007, she joined the elite Dallas SWAT team as one of only two females in a male dominated field.
This proved valuable preparation for 2013, when she became the first black female sergeant in the Dallas Criminal Intelligence Division.
Tell’s position is stressful, and in her line of work there is no such thing as a “typical day.” She admits that she doesn’t like to be away from work. Not that she doesn’t trust her team—they are fantastic —but her heart is in this and she doesn’t want anything to happen when she’s not around. Her job is high profile, but she laughingly admits that the thing she is most recognized for is her appearance on an episode of the T.V. show S.W.A.T.
Losing her mom during college was devastating, but Tell learned a lot from the experience. Today, she knows how to deal with adversity. She maintains perspective in challenging situations. And most of all, she’s confident that her mom is watching and protecting her from above. After almost 18 years in the police force, she knows that her mom has played a big part in keeping her safe.
When she does take time away from her job, you can find Tell jogging with Julie, her loveable Weimaraner or volunteering with the Special Olympics, a cause she supports through the Dallas PD. She’s also active in the Southwestern University Alumni Association—Dallas Chapter. Southwestern and the town of Georgetown will always have a special place in her heart. “At Southwestern, you have the opportunity to get to know your professors, and they actually care about you. You’re not just a number. It really is a family.”