thousands of young people to the city. Subsequent looting, property damage and vandalism took a heavy toll on Atlanta; over 200 arrests were made by the end of this event in 1995. But last year’s Freedom Fest was largely uneventful, thanks to a curfew and traffic plan that limited access to certain city areas.
The challenges are plentiful. As Atlanta’s top cop, the 46-year-old Harvard has to maintain peace in a metropolis ranked in FBI statistics as one of the nation’s most crime-ridden cities. Corruption scandals have eroded public confidence in the police department and damaged morale within her force. And she must deal with such internal issues as retaining top officers, despite salaries averaging 15% below that for comparable positions in other large cities. Harvard herself earns an annual salary of $88,000, considerably less than her counterparts in cities like Houston, Detroit and Los Angeles.
But Harvard, who routinely works around-the-dock at least six days a week and controls a budget of more than $100 million, says these very challenges stimulate her. “One of the things that really keep me going is having confidence in myself and my ability. I know I’m a good police chief,” she says.
“The primary job of chief is to provide direction for the department,” she explains. “I think you have to be a visionary. Once you define that vision, you have to show leadership in order to have people follow you to where you want to go.
But like the police chief of any large city, Harvard has her share of critics. It’s b
een said that Mayor Bill Campbell, who appointed Harvard, keeps her on a short leash whereas police chiefs under previous administrations appeared to have more direct control of their departments. Campbell decides key police appointments and is often seen at news conferences speaking on behalf of the department. “The mayor does not micromanage,” says Harvard. “He’s concerned about crime, and we talk about what my strategies arc going to be because I want him to be informed. But I have full reign of my police department.”
She leads without being the stereotypical boisterous police chief, say those who know her. “She’s a forceful person who can get a job done with compassion,” according to the Rev. Gerald Durley, president of Atlanta’s Concerned Black Clergy. “She can lead without being pushy.”
An emphasis on community policing has been Harvard’s stamp on the Atlanta force. With 1,700 officers under her command, she believes that Atlanta’s law enforcers must build positive relationships within the community and be present even when there is no crisis. “How can you show anyone anything if you’re always inside the car with the window rolled up?” she declares. “If we want the community participating with us, we’ve got to see them more often than when they dial 911.”
Other initiatives she’s enacted include installing microcomputers in patrol cars to give officers instant access to police reports, and combining the department’s school detectives, child molestation and curfew enforcement units in response to concerns about teen