ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46)- In 1973, Beverly Harvard had just graduated from Morris Brown College when one night, she overheard her husband speaking with his friends.
“One of them said ‘see look at Beverly, she could never be a police officer.’ And I was offended. I thought my husband would defend me.”
He didn't and the two made a wager - $100 if Harvard could become an Atlanta police officer.
“I decided I am going to win this bet and I am going to prove him wrong,” she told CBS46 reporter Ashley Thompson.
After the police academy, it was immediately trial by fire.
“They placed me not in the car but on high-crime foot patrol and that was like six in the evening until 2 a.m. in the morning on foot and obviously in a high crime area.”
The shift was brutal and came with a number of challenges, including sexism.
“I remember one guy, he looked at me and he looked at me and he said oh hey police lady. Then he thought about it. ‘Ain't no police lady going to arrest me.’”
And it wasn't just from people on the outside. Harvard said she experienced sexism from some of her partners and supervisors.
“It was the male ego thing,” she explained. “I don't want to concede that a woman can do the same thing that I can do as a man.”
Harvard pressed on, becoming Atlanta’s deputy chief of police in 1982.
“The bigger challenge there was the acceptance now because I’m a police executive.”
In 1994, she became Atlanta’s first black female police chief. One of her major assignments was helping to plan for the 1996 Olympics.
Two people were killed when a bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park. Harvard said her officers had trained for that very scenario and responded appropriately.
“It was a tremendous, tremendous task.”
Harvard was also chief during the height of Freaknik, where she encouraged fun only if it was lawful.
“Okay as long as you're looking at something that is not a violation of the law, we are not going to be doing massive arrests.”
Harvard was there for some of Atlanta's biggest events but one of her proudest accomplishments was taking down dirty cops in her own department.
“We proceeded with that and ended up with a number of Atlanta police officers ending up in federal prison,” she said.