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Police work is in her blood

Tami Hunt knew from a young age that she would be a part of the police force.

From a young age, Tami Hunt knew what she'd be doing when she grew up -- even if it did take her a few years before she decided to go to college and pursue that dream.

"My dad (Tom Hunt) was sheriff, so it's always been in my blood. I always knew what I wanted to do," she said. Her mother is an attorney in town, so law has been in her family for many years.

In her 11th year at the Detroit Lakes Police Department, Hunt has been working as an investigator since January of 2010.

"There's always a story," that comes with her line of work, she said.

And this is hers.

Working at Zorbaz for several years after high school -- she still works there from time to time -- and part-time with the county auxiliary deputies for a period of time, she graduated from college at age 29 and got a job as dispatcher for the county. After working there for six months, she applied at the DLPD and has been there ever since.

"It's the first job I applied for," she said. And possibly the last.

Hunt said she loves her job and has no intention of leaving it.

"I'm happy here. I have awesome partners and an awesome chief."

After being hired, she spent 14 weeks being trained in by Rob Wertz and her now-boss Police Chief Tim Eggebraaten. Up until her switch to investigator in January of 2010, she had worked afternoons and nights for the first 10 years of her career.

"I reached that point: I think I can do this," she said of applying for the investigator spot.

"I miss patrol though," she admits.

Being involved in high-speed pursuits and breaking up bar fights are not duties she regularly sees as an investigator.

Now she has a different challenge -- catching criminals.

She keeps busy with her Monday through Friday day job, and no day is ever the same. Every morning she looks through the initial complaint reports from the previous day, and if someone is arrested, she makes sure everything is in order to present to the city attorney.

"There's always something waiting for work on my desk. My organizational skills are getting tested. Or lack of organizational skills, anyway," she said with a laugh.

She works on cases from child protection to writing bad checks, and she also helps patrol if needed. (She still has the knack for helping people who have locked their keys in their cars.) She is also in charge of keeping track of predatory offenders.

"It's not as glamorous as it is on TV," she said.

Ironically enough, she said her job at Zorbaz actually taught her lessons to bring to her job with the police department. For one, it's a small kitchen, and workers have to be careful working in close quarters.

Secondly, not all teenagers are bad ones.

"When you run into kids at night, they're usually in trouble," she said.

But working with them at Zorbaz on a regular basis, she's learned they're not all bad and first impressions are inaccurate at times.

"They've kept me young and more positive," she said of her young Zorbaz co-workers.

For Hunt, getting away from the job and balancing life isn't that tough. She lives out of town on a farm with horses, dogs, cats, pigs, gardens and even peacocks.

"It's perfect. When I get up in the morning, there's trees and silence."

It didn't always come that easy, though. She said it took her several years to be able to separate work from personal life. Now she has friends that don't focus on her career and she finds other things to focus on instead.

Riding in squad cars with her dad since she was 12 years old, Hunt said she was "born into it. It was in my blood."

And something else she took away from her dad's experience in law enforcement that has served her well: "People are people, they're human. No matter what they've done, you have to treat them with respect."