Anne Arundel County's new police chief is pledging to restore order and pride to an agency that has been racked by scandal and leadership changes over the past two years.
Kevin Davis, who takes over Monday as chief, brings with him 21 years of experience in Prince George's County, including the past three years as assistant chief.
Anne Arundel County, he said, "is filled with good cops and good commanders."
"I am personally not interested in distractions. So whether it's a commander or a patrol officer or a detective, we're all on the same team and we move forward as one, shoulder to shoulder, on behalf of the community," Davis said Friday. "As distractions reveal themselves, I will forthrightly deal with those distractions."
The Police Department has had more than its share of distractions the past two years, including leadership changes and officers becoming entangled in the court case that ended with John R. Leopold resigning as county executive.
Leopold's police chief, James Teare Sr., resigned last summer amid the state prosecutor's investigation into Leopold's use of his county police detail. Teare was not charged, but the indictment against Leopold said the chief did not intervene after officers complained about the county executive's actions.
Leopold was convicted of two counts of misconduct in office and has appealed the convictions.
Teare was replaced by Larry W. Tolliver, a former state police superintendent. Tolliver resigned in May after he was accused of making insensitive remarks, though a personnel investigation found no wrongdoing.
County Executive Laura Neuman said she believes Davis is the right person to turn around the department.
"First and foremost, I'd like to see him restore faith and integrity to the department," Neuman said. "We need a stable, strong leader, and I believe he will be the guy for that."
Prince George's officials lamented the lost of their No. 2 cop.
County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said Davis earned respect from commanders, colleagues, government officials and Prince George's residents.
"He is the consummate law enforcement officer and will excel as the chief of police in Anne Arundel County," Baker said.
Prince George's Police Chief Mark Magaw said Davis' experience in Prince George's has prepared him well for the challenges in Anne Arundel.
"He's coming from a department that has gone through a lot of the same issues," Magaw said. "We're stronger now than we've ever been. … We learned from mistakes and moved on. "He's the perfect person at the perfect time for Anne Arundel County," Magaw said.
Davis said he'll fix Anne Arundel's problems with openness both with the community and within the department. Davis said frustrated officers who previously took their grievances to politicians or the news media won't have much ammunition if they know and understand the chief's rationale behind his decisions.
Davis said he expects police officers to be focused on the common goal of protecting Anne Arundel's citizens.
"Anyone who is not a team player does not have a place in our Police Department," he said.
Davis said he'll meet with groups of rank-and-file officers to get to know them and to understand their concerns.
He'll also be faced with carrying out the recommendations of an outside task force appointed by Neuman that is evaluating the department.
Davis could get a boost in his efforts to reform the department. Neuman said she will introduce a bill that would allow the chief to pick his own deputy chief and top command staff.
"Considering the challenges this department has had the last several years, it's particularly important that we make it easier for the new chief to do the job," Neuman said.
County Councilman Jamie Benoit, who has been a critic of the Police Department, praised Neuman's choice. "This is the formal end of the Leopold administration and I couldn't be happier," said Benoit, a Crownsville Democrat.
Benoit said he has "high hopes" that Davis can turn around the department.
"I think setting our department back on track is really going to require somebody who has got the character to do the right thing and not tolerate what's been going on," he said.
County Council Chairman Jerry Walker said Davis contacted him and some of the other councilmen to let them know he was applying for the chief's job. Walker appreciated the outreach.
"I was very impressed with him. We sat and talked at least an hour or more and had a couple conversations by phone after that," said Walker, a Gambrills Republican.
While the County Council has no role in the appointment of the police chief, Walker said it's important that council members have a good relationship with the chief to help with constituent concerns and policy issues.
O'Brien Atkinson, president of the union for the rank-and-file police officers in the county, said he'd met Davis last year and was impressed.
"During the last appointment process, Chief Davis contacted me and wanted to have a sit-down and have coffee and explain his vision for the Police Department. He was the only prospect for chief to have done that, and 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 will make $150,000 per year.
While Anne Arundel is gaining a top official from Prince George's, the county is losing another top official to its neighbor to the south. Anne Arundel Superintendent Kevin Maxwell takes over as CEO of Prince George's schools Aug. 1.
Baltimore Sun reporter Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this article.
Position: Chief, Anne Arundel County police, starting Monday
Experience: 21 years with Prince George's County police, rising to rank of assistant chief
Education: Graduate, DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville; bachelor's degree in English, Towson State University; master's degree in management, Johns Hopkins University; graduate, FBI National Academy
Residence: Crofton since 1995
Personal: Married with four children, ages 15, 13, 10 and 10; football coach for Crofton Athletic CouncilCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun