Beverly Harvard became a police officer after taking on a $100 bet from her husband and a friend who thought she wouldn’t cut it. Not only did she complete the course to become an officer for the Atlanta Police Department, she went on to become the first Black female police chief for the force as well.
Harvard, a 1972 graduate of Morris Brown College with a degree in sociology, met her husband and friend’s challenge in 1973 and entered the academy. While she had no idea what she’d be up against, she managed to graduate and worked her way up in the ranks. Her husband was so worried about her night assignments, he would routinely follow her around to make certain she was safe.
After earning the respect of her peers, Harvard juggled police work, family life and graduate school, earning her master’s in 1980 from Georgia State University.
While she never openly complained, Harvard did state in an interview that the lack of women at the same level she was professionally was lonely at times but she pressed on. History was made in October 1994 when she was sworn in as Atlanta’s top cop at the age of 43.
Harvard remained on the job until 2002, then began working as the Security Director for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
In 2010, President Barack Obama named Harvard a U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Georgia.