A veteran law enforcement officer who was motivated to become a cop after her father was murdered when she was a child was named the newest LGBT liaison for the Atlanta Police Department.
Officer Acashia Lavigeour, 28, has worked as a corrections officer in Florida prisons, patrolled tough beats in Atlanta and faced down violent criminals as a member of the agency's APEX Unit. Now, she will serve as go-between for officers and the city's LGBT residents.
“I am ready to embark on this new journey,” Lavigeour said.
The four-year veteran of Atlanta police, who worked for two years in a Florida prison, was named one of the agency's two LGBT liaisons in late March to replace Officer Courtney Murphy, who was promoted and transferred to the department's gang unit. Atlanta police announced Lavigeour's appointment on Monday. She joins Officer Eric King, who was named an LGBT liaison in August 2014.
Lavigeour said she's been an openly gay officer since she started her law enforcement career, but now that it's official with her appointment as LGBT liaison, other officers – gay and straight – are coming to her with questions and concerns about issues they face.
“Everyone still treats me the same. I wear my flag right here with pride,” Lavigeour said, pointing to the rainbow ribbon above her pocket near her right shoulder.
“But I actually have more officers and people in the community talking now that they actually know. I’ve always been open but now that it’s been broadcast as my duty, they come to me with business stuff and personal problems,” she added.
The agency's LGBT liaisons face a mixed bag of duties, from responding to calls that involve LGBT victims, teaching new recruits and officers at other agencies about LGBT issues, to meeting LGBT business owners and residents, and navigating through difficult situations when LGBT people complain of police mistreatment. It's a big change from Lavigeour's past assignments patrolling in Zone 5 – which covers Midtown, downtown and Castleberry Hill – and getting deployed to crime hotspots across the city as part of the APEX Unit.
“It definitely is a big change but I am always open to change and growth,” Lavigeour said. “I am still out interacting with the community, with business owners and trying to promote partnerships.”
Lavigeour, a native of Fort Pierce, Fla., graduated from Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. She applied for a job with Atlanta police after the prison where she worked as a corrections officer was being closed. She faced relocation to keep her job with the Florida Department of Corrections, so Lavigeour decided it was time to pursue her calling as a police officer. With a brother already living in Atlanta, once she spotted an employment ad from the police agency, she pursued it. She was hired in 2012, graduated from the police academy in 2013 and then hit the streets of Atlanta.
“I am glad that I started in corrections first. It teaches you how to interact with people whether or not they have committed crimes. Regardless of what the person has done, they are still human and need to be treated as such,” Lavigeour said.
She has always wanted to be a police officer, a desire made stronger when her father was killed when she was 10 years old.
“He was murdered in North Carolina. To this day we never received closure about the case. I grew up in a rough neighborhood and I just decided to be part of the solution and not the problem. I’ve always wanted to become a police officer,” Lavigeour said.
She said she relies on a strong support system made up of her mother, siblings and other relatives, as well as her church. She attended Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Pierce and found Mt. Gilead Baptist Church when she moved to Atlanta.
“I have a strong support system – not only my family but my church family as well. I am a very spiritual person as well,” Lavigeour said.
Contact the LGBT liaisons for the Atlanta Police Department.