After Chief Bill Gillespie was terminated by the city council in 1994, Forbes was recruited to be the new police chief. Forbes had been a 20 year veteran of the Memphis, Tennessee police department, having achieved the rank of Inspector and command of one of the four police districts in the city.
Arriving in Sparta Forbes managed to get himself pulled over by Luann Corbin shortly after arrival. She provided directions to a good nearby hotel where he could stay until he got settled in. Arriving at the police department Forbes met Gillespie and the other officers, including Parker Williams and Bubba Skinner. There Gillespie said he would do everything to make the transition as easy as possible and gave Forbes a run down of the department, the city, and its various personalities. Gillespie pointed out where his chief inspector Virgil Tibbs normally sat, stating the other man was on a leave of absence at the time.
Forbes quickly settled in to his new role as the first African-American chief of the Sparta PD. Gillespie meanwhile had a last laugh of sorts when Newman county asked him to become Acting Sheriff when Sheriff Nathan McComb had a heart attack and was too ill to continue his duties. Gillespie would later take on the role permanently. The two men quickly became friends and worked together on many of the cases that arose in the area.
- Hampton Forbes was played by the actor Carl Weathers, who was best known for playing the role of Apollo Creed in the Rocky series of films.
- The character of Hampton Forbes was created to replace Virgil Tibbs after actor Howard Rollins was dropped from the show due to continued legal issues stemming from his struggles with drugs and alcohol.