East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis, who is up for the job of top cop in both Seattle and New Orleans, said today that he would be pleased with either position but that he also would be content to stay in East Palo Alto. Davis, 46, has been the police chief for the southern San Mateo County community for nearly five years. His soon-to-be fully staffed Police Department consists of nearly 40 sworn members, and total staff of 50. “These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities,” Davis said of the job possibilities in an interview at the Police Department this afternoon. “It doesn’t reflect that I’m not happy where I’m at.”Davis, a self-described workaholic, sat casually but still alert on a black sofa, speaking just as excitedly about East Palo Alto as he did of his job prospects. Davis said he learned of the opening for New Orleans police superintendent from mentors, and that shortly after he applied there, a headhunter contacted him about the open Seattle police chief job. He said both cities are “a good fit” for him in terms of offering diversity and an urban environment. Davis spent the first 20 years of his law enforcement career with the Oakland Police Department, which he said gives him plenty of experience with a larger police agency. He said he wanted to go into law enforcement because his father had been a police captain in Philadelphia.”I knew at a young age that I wanted to be a cop,” Davis said. He recalled one particular arrest he made in his time patrolling the streets of Oakland, when he stopped a man for a misdemeanor violation and asked for his identification. The man handed over a driver’s license and birth certificate, among other documentation, which all had been issued a week earlier. The man’s ID also said he was 25 years old. Though the man was in good shape, Davis said he didn’t believe the man was 25.The situation seemed fishy, so Davis checked the man’s record, which came up clean. Still, “it just didn’t add up,” Davis said. After some more investigating, Davis figured out the man was wanted for a homicide out of Baltimore. “It’s one of those things where you follow a gut feeling,” Davis said. Though it wasn’t an exciting police chase or wild arrest, he said, the situation was still extremely rewarding. After working as a police officer, Davis worked his way up to police captain before becoming the East Palo Alto police chief. “As I started getting promoted up the chain, I looked at how the departments were being run” and decided he wanted to get involved in that aspect, Davis said. To manage the job, he said he stays focused, strives to provide the best service but recognizes that he can’t please everyone, and avoids reading any blogs about him. Davis said he also stays balanced by spending time with his wife, three children and 15-month-old granddaughter. Davis is one of three finalists for the job of New Orleans police superintendent. He is one of 11 semi-finalists for the Seattle police chief job, and is expected to interview there May 8.
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