Atkinson said Davis was the only candidate during the previous search for a chief to contact him about his ideas for the department. "I think that speaks volumes for what kind of chief he would be," Atkinson said.
"He said he thought a chief should be more involved with the County Council and other elected officials," Atkinson recalled. "He described a more collaborative style and said he'd like to involve the rank and file in decision-making."
Davis said Prince George's and Anne Arundel have similar policing challenges: They are large, suburban counties adjacent to big cities.
Yet along with success, Davis' record in Prince George's also includes two lawsuits in which he was a defendant. He was cleared of wrongdoing by his department in both incidents.
In 1993, a young man alleged that Davis threw him to the ground and handcuffed him without explanation. He won a $12,500 jury award against Davis, according to court records.
In 2002, a federal jury awarded about $90,000 to a teenager who said he was taken from his home without a warrant in 1999 by undercover officers, then interrogated for hours about the whereabouts of his girlfriend, the niece of the agency's deputy chief. According to published reports at the time, a jury found the constitutional rights of the 19-year-old were violated but rejected his claims of excessive force. Soon after the lawsuit was filed, the deputy chief, who gave the officers their assignment, retired.
Davis said that assignment was given under "false pretenses," as the girl willingly left her home and a missing-person report did not classify her as critically missing, though officers were led to believe she was in danger.
"The fact that a deputy chief gave it to me, I had no reason to doubt its veracity," he said this week recalling the case. But it was "quite a lesson for me as a young sergeant."
Davis said the incident stuck with him. "It made me a better cop. It made me a better leader. It made me a better person."
"You will never see Kevin Davis make that mistake," said David Mitchell, a former Prince George's police chief and Maryland State Police superintendent.
Mitchell said he's known Davis since he was child, because Davis' father, Robert, was a Prince George's officer.
Most recently, Mitchell was Davis' professor in a class at the Johns Hopkins University when Davis was working toward a master's degree in public safety leadership. He said Davis has learned from everything, including his and others' mistakes.
"He will not betray his department," Mitchell said.
Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw said he was disappointed to lose his right-hand man to Anne Arundel.
Magaw praised Davis' experience, particularly his efforts in community outreach. He noted that Prince George's has seen several years of reduced violent crime and said "a lot of that is because of Kevin Davis."
Davis dealt with training, use of force issues and other concerns as the Prince George's department emerged from Justice Department oversight several years ago, which stemmed from police shootings and other incidents. According to Prince George's police spokesman Lt. Bill Alexander, Davis was among those credited with addressing community and federal concerns.
Cpl. Vince Canales, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Prince George's County, said Davis is a "policeman's policeman" who is a smart pick for Anne Arundel.
"He's come up through the ranks; he's worked the streets of Prince George's County," he said. "He's a hands-on type of manager."
Position: Chief, Anne Arundel Police Department.
Experience: 21 years with Prince George's County police, rising to rank of assistant chief
Residence: Crofton, since 1995
Personal: Married with four children; football coach for Crofton Athletic Council