Harvard, Beverly 1950—

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Beverly Harvard 1950

Law enforcement executive

Grueling Education

The Beat and Beyond


The image of the big-city police chief has undergone some revision of late. With Los Angeless Daryl Gates in the news following the 1992 riots and Detroits William Hart forced to resign the following year after being indicted on embezzlement charges, the position itself has become a center of controversy. In late 1994 when Beverly Harvard--a 21-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department-was appointed chief of police, a new face and a new image were attached to this public office. Not only is Harvard one of the few female police executives in the United States (joined by Betsy Watson in Houston and Austin, Texas, and Penny Harrington in Portland, Oregon), she is also the first African American woman to head a major police force.

According to Ronald Smothers, writing in theNeu; York Times, Harvards new office, with its gleaming, stained oak paneling and view of midtown Atlanta, is a far cry from her hometown of Macon, [Georgia,] where she was raised in a sheltered environment with little knowledge of police or of crime. Harvard was born in 1950 as the youngest of seven children. Her birth order allowed her to be the much-protected baby of the family.

Grueling Education

Taken with public service from her early adult years, Harvard earned a bachelors degree in sociology in 1972 from Morris Brown College. In 1980 she earned a master of science degree in urban government and administration from Georgia State University. Later on, Harvard earned a degree from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Education of another sort began in 1973. One day while Harvards husband and his friends were discussing the possibility of female police officers, they suggested the kind of women suited to police work would have to be 6 foot 2 inches tall, weigh 200 pounds, and have deep voices, recalled Harvard to Smothers. Whileshe hardly measured up to those dimensions, she did have her opinion of a womans place in the police force. I thought [my husband and his friends] were just being ridiculous, and I was upset because my husband didnt defend me and women in general more, she added. I just wanted to get this piece of paper and wave it in their

At a Glance

Born Beverly Joyce Bailey in 1950 in Macon, GA; married Jim Havard;children:Christa.Education: Morris Brown College, BA, 1972; Geotgia State University, M.S., 1980; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy, graduate, 1983.

Atlanta Police Department, Atlanta, GA, officer, 197379; Atlanta Department of Public Safety, affirmative action specialist, 197980, director of public affairs, 198082; Atlanta Police Department, deputy chief of police, 198294, acting chief of police, April-October 1994, chief of police, October 1994-.

Member: International Association of Chiefs of Police; National Organization of Law Enforcement Executives; Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police; Leadership Atlanta (member of board of trustees); American Red Cross (board of directors); Council on Battered Women (board of directors); Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies,

Selected awards Outstanding Atlantan, 1983; Alumni of the Year, Morris Brown College, 1985; Woman of the Year, Atlanta City Government; named one of Atlantas Top 100 Powers to Be by Atlanta magazine; one of five Women of the Year on CBSs Good Morning television program, 1995.

Addresses: Office-Chief of Police, Atlanta Police Department, 175 Decatur Street SE, Atlanta, GA 30335.

faces. If I had known then all that was involved, I wouldnt have done it, but nobody told me.

After betting her husband $100 that she could graduate from the police academy, Harvard undertook the intense physical and mental training that every officer must face. Halfway through academy training, Muriel L. Whetstone noted in Ebony, an enduring bond between Harvard and law enforcement was cemented when she discovered that as a police officer she could fulfill her desire to help people and to work in the public service arena. In those days, however, African Ameri-cans-especially women-werent quickly accepted as police material. Harvard came into the force at a time of political upheaval in the city, Smothers continued.Maynard Jackson was about to win election as [Atlantas] first black mayor, in part on a platform that police brutality aimed at black residents was common among the predominantly white police force.

The Beat and Beyond

Despite the social and political turmoil, Harvard entered the Atlanta police department as an officer in 1973. She cut her teeth on street patrol, walking a beat for two years. Moving up the ranks over the next two decades, Harvard served as affirmative action specialist, director of public affairs, and deputy chief of police in three divisions-Career Development, Criminal Investigations, and Administrative Services. In April of 1994, her long and distinguished service was rewarded; she became acting chief of police for the city of Atlanta. On October 26, 1994, Mayor Bill Campbell formally announced Harvards promotion to chief of police.

Among those who monitor police policy, Harvard is known as a gifted administrator, able to get more out of less, as Smothers wrote, and to motivate her peers. What Beverly brings is more of an openness to new ideas and a management style that is more in line with the more educated police officers that we are trying to attract, Mayor Campbell told Smothers in the New York Times.Harvard regularly solicits feedback from the force and feels that cops should be problem solvers versed in community outreach. The ideal officer, first of all, has to care about people, Harvard noted mEbony.Whetstone wrote in the same article, In Harvards opinion, the police department can best combat crime by joining forces with the community to prevent [crimes] from occurring in the first place.

Harvard had her work cut out for her almost immediately. In early 1995, she had to prepare the citys police force for Freaknik, an annual festival which brings approximately 100,000 college students from predominantly black colleges to Atlanta. As if the challenge of patrolling thousands of excited, vacationing young people were not enough, she was charged with keeping a tight rein on Atlanta when the Summer Olympic Games came to the city in 1996. Few who have seen Harvard at work would doubt her ability, though. Hubert Williams, president of the Police Foundation, summed it up when he told Smothers, The fact of the matter is that she has been a good professional and a strong police leader for a number of years now. Everyone knows it.


Atlanta Constitution, November 17, 1994, p. C2; January 3, 1995, p. Dl; February 9, 1995, p. C6;April 7, 1995, p. C2.

Atlanta Journal and Atlanta Constitution, October 29, 1994, p. A2; April 23, 1995, p. D8; May 6, 1995, p. A2.

Ebony, March 1995, p. 92.

Jet, November 14, 1994, p. 22; April 15, 1995, p. 46.

New York Times, November 30, 1994, p. CI.

USA Today, October 27, 1994, p. A4.

U.S. News and World Report, December 26, 1994,pp. 8283.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from a City of Atlanta news release, 1994.

Susan Salter