Of the three finalists for Seattle police chief, Ronald Davis might at first glance seem the unlikeliest pick. He heads a department of just 39 sworn officers in East Palo Alto, Ca., population 33,000. The Seatte Times says Davis, 46, is regarded as a rising star who proved his crime-fighting mettle during 19 years with the Oakland Police Department, rising to captain before taking the East Palo Alto job in 2005.
Davis is credited with cutting violent crime in a town once dubbed the nation’s per-capita murder capital. He has restored community trust and morale in what was a deeply troubled police department. Davis has done it by being seemingly present everywhere in the town – holding regular “meet the chief” chats, talking with youth groups and at senior centers. A local weekly newspaper called him “the people’s chief.” Davis has won a reputation as a national expert and critic of racial profiling and has been tapped as an adviser for troubled police departments across the country. “I consider Ron one of the great thinkers in American policing. He has an insightful understanding of the role of police in a democratic society,” said Robert Warshaw, former police chief of Rochester, N.Y., and former deputy drug czar, who has worked with Davis as a consultant for police departments.