Davis called 'perfect fit' as new police commander He replaces Barr at Northern District

January 22, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

After 18 years of fighting crime throughout Anne Arundel County, Emerson C. Davis is back where he started, in the Northern Police District, this time as a captain and commander.

"He's a perfect fit," said Deputy Chief Patrick T. Shanahan, 42, who worked with Captain Davis when they were rookies in the Northern District. "He knows the county well. He knows the geography, and he probably still knows some of the criminals who are still out there."

Captain Davis, 41, who spent his first three years with the department as a patrolman in the Northern District, replaces Gary Barr, who was promoted to deputy chief at police headquarters in Millersville.

One of his first objectives, Captain Davis said, is to meet with business owners to find a solution to a rash of armed robberies along Ritchie Highway. He said he also wants to improve the department's ties with community associations, keep officer morale high and improve the problem-solving skills of his officers.

When he went to college, Captain Davis had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. In his senior year, he said, he decided to become a police officer to help others and to escape the hard factory work of his hometown, Frackville, Pa.

A college friend from Severna Park suggested that he apply to the Anne Arundel department because it was progressive. That sounded better to him than a job at one of the 30 one- and two-man departments within 20 miles of Frackville, population 6,000.

To Captain Davis, who was accepted by the county police academy in 1977, the busy Northern District seemed a world apart from what he had known.

"If somebody got a broken window [in Frackville], it was big news. If someone had their bicycle stolen, it was a felony. We had virtually no crime. We never locked our doors. We never locked our windows. We never locked our cars," he said. "For me, it was just incredible to see some of the things I saw."

His eyes were opened two weeks into his new job. He was in a parking lot in Sun Valley when a man approached and said there was a body buried in the woods and that it might be the body of a missing friend.

Captain Davis, fresh out of the academy, checked the site and found a piece of blue denim sticking out of the ground. When he pulled the cloth, a foot appeared. The man's friend had been found.

"Five years later, when I went to homicide, I tried to solve the case myself but couldn't, and the case remains unsolved today," said Captain Davis, who worked homicide for three years.

He has served in the Eastern District and at police headquarters and with the burglary and hostage negotiation divisions.

He has found the larger, more professional police department he desired and a better life than the one his parents scraped out in the Pennsylvania coal country.

His father, Elmer C. Davis, 65, was a foreman at Parkway Paperbox Co. in Schuylkill Haven; his mother, Arlene E. Davis, 64, was a seamstress at Martin's Sewing Outlet in Frackville.

His parents "are proud of what I've achieved," Captain Davis said. They were too poor to send him to college, so he took odd jobs and applied for student loans to enable him to earn a bachelor's degree at York College in York, Pa.

Captain Davis, who lives in Arnold with his wife, Donna, and their sons, Matthew, 8, and Nathan, 5, is studying for a master's degree at the Johns Hopkins University.

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