Fort Worth Star Telegram
Deanna Boyd

She was on probation, she had drugs stashed in her car, and she was face to face with Fort Worth police. It seemed the worst day of her life. In time, it turned out to be the best. The bust that put the drug-addicted felon and single mother of three behind bars once again also allowed her to cross paths with Tegan Broadwater, an undercover officer whom she now credits with saving her life. Convinced that the woman really wanted to change, Broadwater rallied on her behalf, persuading prosecutors and a judge to be lenient. He and his wife, Holli, also provided financial and emotional support to the woman and her family. With their help, the woman said, she’s been clean for almost three years. “Tegan stepped in and he took that chance with me,” said the woman, who is not being identified out of concern for her safety. “Even after I got in trouble again, he was still there for me. We ended up bonding and becoming real good friends. He had encouraged me to do the right thing, even now.” So it came as no surprise to her that Broadwater was recognized this week by the Fort Worth Police Department as Officer of the Year. Operation Fish Bowl Among his fellow officers, Broadwater is most known for his work in Operation Fish Bowl, a 20-month multiagency investigation into the southeast Fort Worth drug trade. Broadwater’s undercover work in the neighborhood through the years helped put the investigation in motion. Because the area was a “closed neighborhood” with only two entries, traditional enforcement tactics proved futile because police had difficulty entering undetected. So for 13 months, Broadwater worked undercover, moving his way up to the top players and helping to build what became a federal conspiracy case. It meant late phone calls and time away from home. “If you don’t get the head of the snake, you’re not going to get anywhere,” Broadwater said. “The only way to tackle this neighborhood was from the inside out.” By its end, the operation netted 42 federal indictments. Thirty-five of the suspects have been convicted and sentenced to prison. Six are awaiting prosecution. “He was Operation Fish Bowl for the most part,” said Lt. David Burgess. “He’s a very strong self-motivator, and he took it upon himself to take this project and did a fantastic job. When you look at all the federal indictments that occurred and the impact it had on that little area, it’s incredible.”
Breaking out: Broadwater, now assigned to the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force through the gang unit, said that in his eight years of working drug cases, he has seen lots of people in the clutches of addiction and the often violent world around it. He said he and his wife were happy to play a part in helping one woman and her family break free. “It’s the cool part,” Broadwater said. “Not everybody that asks for help actually makes it out. They don’t help themselves enough. They just want handouts. This particular person was willing to go out and help themselves.” The woman said the Broadwater’s have provided Christmas for her children and, for her daughter, a birthday party that the mother could have never afforded herself. Now going to school, working and hoping to pursue a better career, the woman said she would be in prison today without the Broadwaters’ intervention. As a way of thanking him, she has asked the officer and his wife to be the godparents of her soon-to-arrive fourth child. “They really wanted to see me make it,” the woman said. “I talk to him no less than once a week. I communicate with him and his wife. I love them and they love me, and you can tell we have a very close relationship. And all of it started with him just trying to help me not get in trouble.”

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