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FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2007
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Austin graduate joins police force

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com 340-2432

After graduating from Austin High and then Birmingham-Southern University, Nikki Elliott's life journey took her to Maryland and a surprising career choice.

Elliott was the only woman of 12 graduates recently to complete Frederick, Md., Police Department's training academy.

Elliott played for Billy Miles' Austin girls basketball team and ran track, graduating in 1998 and earning an athletic scholarship to play basketball. She was with the Birmingham-Southern program for five years, where she became a friend of Assistant Coach Keivett Hammond.

Change of scenery

When Hammond decided to return to the Maryland area, Elliott said, she followed her north for a change in scenery. She said the two were discussing career options when Hammond suggested becoming a police officer.

"I always told myself I would never be a police officer, but when I asked what she would have done if she wasn't a coach, she said she would have been a police officer," Elliott said. "Then the idea sounded pretty good to me."

Two women began the 28-week training academy, but the other woman dropped out. Elliott, who is black, is part of a diverse class that included three black men, a Hispanic man and seven white men.

"The first few weeks were pretty overwhelming," Elliott said. "But they treated me just like they treated the guys. They weren't any harder on me, and they didn't do me any favors."

Elliott, the daughter of Charles and Angela Elliott of Decatur, began her career with the Frederick Police Department on Wednesday. She spent her Fourth of July patrolling at a festival at Becker Park.

"Mainly, I just walked around, talked to people and watched for problems like disorderly conduct," she said.

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