Fairfax County, Virginia’s new police chief introduced himself to the public at a Thursday forum, promising to bring a progressive mindset to policing and touting his executive experience with other police departments.
But not everyone who called into the two-hour online town hall did so to express support for Police Chief Kevin Davis or the Board of Supervisors who hired him.
At issue are questions about how transparent the hiring process was, and whether two incidents Davis was involved with in the 1990s while a patrol officer in Prince George’s County, Maryland, should be disqualifying.
“How can Davis be a strong and effective advocate for protecting at-risk communities from police misconduct,” asked Jeremy Monat, “when he committed such misconduct himself?”
Davis has denied any wrong doing in the incidents, though Prince George’s County eventually settled with those who complained about him out of court.
But Davis said the incidents have shaped his view on policing.
“I’ve become one of the most progressive reform leaders in our country and I’m proud of that journey,” Davis responded.
“Was it always a perfect journey? No. But I’ve learned from everything I’ve done throughout my career. I have served communities that not only need public safety, but need good public safety.”
For his part, Davis, who lead Maryland police departments in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City as well, said he planned to work quickly in his new role leading the Fairfax County Police Department.
“We’re going to lay out a 100 day plan,” something he said he has already started working on and plans to divulge more information about “in the coming days.”
Davis said the plan would touch on use of force policies and lead to more training about implicit bias. He vowed to work closely with One Fairfax, a joint racial and social equity policy of the county’s Board of Supervisors and School Board.
“Our community oriented policing strategies to re-imagine policing will include a strong focus on the co-responder model of public safety,” said Davis, which teams police with mental health professionals when a call for help might involve someone dealing with a mental health issue.
“I’m a big believer in that.”
But for all the skepticism expressed during the town hall, Davis received some support from within the county too.
Ron Kuley, president of the Fairfax County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics — IAFF Local 2068, called into the town hall to congratulate Davis.
He asked those who are panning the decision to hire the new police chief to give him a chance.
“As a reminder to those calling to have him removed before he’s even had a chance to prove himself here in Fairfax, the NAACP and religious leaders in the city of Baltimore have given him a chance,” Kuley said.
“Those leaders in Baltimore now speak in support of Chief Davis.”
Davis’ first day on the job was Tuesday.