Amid the turmoil of a shoot-out followed by a massive dragnet last week, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis cut through the confusion with spare, declarative words, at once a warning and a clear expression of resolve. “We believe this to be a terrorist,'' Davis told reporters at 4:30 a.m. Friday. “We believe this to be a man here to kill people.” With the world's attention focused on the deadly Marathon bombings, Davis has had several high-profile moments in the crisis. By many accounts, reports the Boston Globe he projected a measured, reassuring presence to a city, and nation, on edge, balancing the need to avoid public panic with the gravity of a fatal terrorist attack.
For those who know Davis well, his turn in the national spotlight reflects a law enforcement philosophy centered on keeping the public informed, as well as an even-keeled personality. “He has a grace under pressure, and he brings that temperament to very stressful situations,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. “Nothing really fazes him.” Wexler, who has known Davis for 20 years, said Davis has the respect of federal agencies, a huge asset in investigations of this scope and complexity, and has a consistency that serves him well in the camera's glare. “There's very little difference between the private Ed Davis and the public Ed Davis,” said Wexler. Davis is a career police officer, who worked as a beat cop and detective in the sex crimes unit before becoming superintendent in Lowell, Ma. During his 12-year tenure before coming to Boston in 2006, violent crime dropped more than 60 percent, according to one report.