FAIRFAX, Va. - Fairfax County’s new police chief is wrapping up his first week on the job and is already under fire. Some in the community are raising concerns over his questionable past as an officer.
As a young officer in Prince George’s County, Davis was accused in two separate lawsuits of slamming a black driver into the pavement during a traffic stop in 1993 and illegally detaining a 19-year-old in 1999.
Davis told Fox 5 he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
After those excessive force incidents, he went on to climb through the ranks and became the Assistant Chief in Prince George’s County. Later on, he left to be a top cop – leading the Anne Arundel County and then the Baltimore City police departments.
During Chief Davis’ first press conference with reporters today, he defended what he called his strong track record of leadership, but admitted he could’ve done things differently.
"I was 24 years old in 1993. Would a 52-year-old Kevin Davis handle that incident differently now? No doubt about it," said Davis.
He considers what happened in the past, a teachable moment.
"I learned from it. My track record of nearly three decades is a journey and I came on this job at a time where we didn’t have warrants like de-escalation and diffusion and time and distance and tactical reposition. We didn’t have body cameras back then we didn’t have any car cameras back then," said Davis.
Chief Davis said his past experiences have prepared him for the role he is in now.
"I’ve learned each and every day I’ve been on the job. I learned more in the last week than I knew in the week before so this journey has been one that I’m proud of and I’ve enacted reforms that not only have benefited the police departments where I have served, but I’ve enacted reforms that have been modeled across the country," said Davis.
On Thursday night during a community input session, Chief Kevin Davis got an earful from the public. Some said Fairfax County can’t trust his ability to serve in such a critical leadership role.
"I ask that you fire Kevin Davis per his history of racists violence and commit to investing what would be his salary as well as significant portion of the police budget to the community instead," said Arona Kessler.
Diana Smith added, "Your decision to hire Mr. Davis in today’s environment is just plain tone deaf. It sends a really negative message. In my opinion, leadership must be unimpeachable. It must be aspirational, it must believable, it must be trusted, with such baggage in Mr. Davis’ background, it is highly inconceivable that he can achieve legitimacy in the communities most impacted. Let alone trust."
The community is also calling for more transparency and information about how Davis was chosen.
Fox 5’s Sierra Fox asked the Board of Supervisors if they are now rethinking this hire due to the negative outcry, but they said they are standing by their decision and are proud to have Chief Davis on board.
The Fairfax County Police Association also sent Fox 5 this statement:
"I fully understand the concerns of the community, but Chief Davis has addressed these prior incidents over and over during the course of his distinguished career. I have full confidence in the exhaustive selection process carried out by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and respect their judgement. In just his first few days, Chief Davis has transparently spoken with us about these prior incidents and accepted any and all questions. The FCPA has full confidence in Chief Davis and we welcome a new era of leadership in the Fairfax County Police Department."
Davis plans to release a first 100-day plan by next week. In the meantime, his focus is on bringing a progressive mindset, police reform, and handling horrible morale within the department.