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Back to Archives | Back to September 2006 Contents 

In memory of chief Edward (ED) Davis, 1916-2006
IACP President, 1976-77

Chief Edward (Ed) Davis

hief Edward Davis, a past president of the IACP, died April 29, 2006, in San Luis Obispo, California. He was 89 and leaves his wife Bobbie Trueblood Davis, three children, four stepchildren, and 10 grandchildren.

Los Angeles Police Department
Chief Davis was born in Los Angeles and raised in the South-Central area, with former mayor Frank Shaw as a neighbor. As mayor, Shaw was provided with 24-hour police protection around his house. Ed, a young boy at the time, spent hours talking with these officers and came to idolize them. It was at this time that Ed decided to become a police officer. He later joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and rose through the ranks from street officer to become chief of police, a position he held from 1969 to 1978. He characterized himself as "just a country boy doing my best to protect the city." As chief of police, Ed was anything but that. He was flamboyant, outspoken, even controversial, but he was also an innovative leader who at that time was credited with "running the most professional police department in any large U.S. city, and the one most free of corruption."

Chief Davis led the LAPD through several high-profile cases, including the arrest in 1969 of Charles Manson and the fiery 1974 gun battle with members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. His public utterances became legend. He once suggested hanging airline hijackers at airports using portable gallows-after a due process trial, of course. That statement earned him the nickname "Hang 'Em High Ed." He pioneered community-based policing (which included the Basic Car Plan), introduced Neighborhood Watch programs, instituted a K-9 program, provided opportunities for police officers to advance their education, created a task force to work with the rapidly increasing Asian population, and decentralized the Office of Operations. Chief Davis supported the creation of the Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation to support the families of officers killed in the line of duty.

Chief Davis was an active member of the IACP and in 1976 was elected president. He began his presidency by describing a five-point program designed to help IACP "influence the course of events." He led a movement to require that police executives should be removed from office only for cause and with due process, appointed a committee to ensure that U.S. police chiefs have a lobbying presence in Congress, reiterated the belief that a police agency should reflect the composition of its population, and opposed the quota hiring standards proposed by the federal government. President Davis insisted upon fixed standards for everyone, recognized the importance of small-decentralized police agencies, opposed their elimination by consolidation or regionalization, and recognized the importance of collaboration involving the public and the police.

Political Service
In 1978 Davis resigned as chief of police to continue his public service in the political arena. He was elected to the California Senate in 1980, where for three terms he represented the suburban sections of Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties. Davis introduced bills to expand the powers of police officers and increase the scope of the death penalty. He also supported gay-protection legislation and environmental bills to expand state parks. He retired from the state senate in 1992.

We have lost an innovative and energetic police executive and political leader who dedicated his life to making the city of Los Angeles, the state of California, and the United States of America a safer and happier place to live. May he rest in peace. ■



From The Police Chief, vol. 73, no. 9, September 2006. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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