County Executive Laura Neuman said she is looking to Davis to return stability and professionalism to the Anne Arundel force, which has seen two chiefs resign amid scandal in the last year.
A state prosecutor’s indictment suggested former Anne Arundel chief, James Teare Sr., knew of former county executive John Leopold’s illegal activities in office, including collecting dossiers on political opponents.
Teare’s replacement, Larry W. Tolliver, resigned this spring amid accusations he made inappropriate remarks.
A contractor has also alleged that members of the department knew about hundreds of cameras used for secret surveillance of county offices under Leopold. And in March, a county officer was suspended for allegedly placing a camera in a high school men’s bathroom.
Davis, 44, a resident of Anne Arundel, said the county deserves a department with a better reputation, and he said he is looking forward to the challenge.
“They have got a lot of good cops and commanders,” Davis said. “They are just under the same kind of cloud our agency was under years ago. I know how to work a large agency out from under that, because we have done it here.”
Davis has helped lead the Prince George’s force as it has exited federal oversight for a past pattern of alleged police brutality.
As assistant chief, he has been in charge of most daily operations while the county has recorded some of its lowest levels of violent crime in nearly 30 years.
Davis began as a patrol officer in Oxon Hill in 1992. He then worked in several divisions, including as a member of a street narcotics team. Prior to becoming assistant chief, he led divisions investigating major crimes, and all patrol operations for the 1,700-member force. He has been the department’s assistant chief for three years.
As a young sergeant, Davis was one of four officers embroiled in a messy civil suit that stemmed from an unusual order from the force’s then second-in-command, Clark R. “Bud” Price.
Price had directed Davis and three others to interrogate a teen about a missing girl. The girl turned out to be the assistant chief’s niece and the boy, her boyfriend. Davis and the others were cleared of wrongdoing, but Price resigned and a jury awarded the teen $90,000.
Davis said the incident was a pivotal lesson in police management.
“Never put your subordinates in a position to do things under false pretenses,” Davis said.
Davis said one of the highlights of his time in Prince George’s was the arrest of alleged serial killer Jason Scott.
The case he said he hates leaving unfinished is the still unsolved killing of honors student Amber Stanley.
“I have full confidence they will close the case,” Davis said, “but the unsolved ones stick with you.”
Most recently, after the deaths of three officers in traffic accidents, Davis has led a campaign that has gained national attention to encourage county officers to drive more safely.
At a class for rookie officers last week, Davis said the department was cracking down on even fender benders and encouraged officers to be truthful when they were at fault.
“The best thing you can do,” he told the class, “is take your lumps, and get better.”