Durham News

Durham Police Chief Davis sworn in, starts work

Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis put her hand on a Bible Monday morning and swore to uphold the laws of the state and the nation as she officially steps into lead the Durham Police Department.

Davis was sworn in as a North Carolina law enforcement officer during a Monday morning ceremony, repeating an oath to be alert and vigilant. After the ceremony, Davis, the city’s first black female police chief, said she looks forward to working with people in the police department, community leaders and city administrators.

“I know that there are great expectations for this department,” Davis said. “The only thing that I can do at this point is to continue to work with the very smart, knowledgeable leadership that’s already here, the men and women who are faithful and dedicated to this city, so that we can take the department to the next level.”

Davis, who will make $150,000 annually, replaces Chief Jose Lopez who resigned last year under mounting criticism and a rising violent crime rate.

Davis made brief remarks after the ceremony and didn’t take questions. A public swearing-in ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at the Carolina Theatre.

Interim Police Chief Larry Smith, who delayed his retirement to lead the department until a police chief was found, said his last day will be June 24.

Among other issues, Davis will have to address concerns about racial disparities in traffic stops and other enforcement, violent crime and lack of public trust within some communities, Smith said.

“All the officers are anxious about meeting with the new chief to see what her new goals are,” Smith said.

Davis worked for the Atlanta Police Department for 28 years and held the ranks of patrol officer, detective and sergeant. She had been deputy chief there since February 2014.

Smith said it is going to take some time for Davis to fully know the state’s laws and learn about the city.

“There will certainly have to be a measure of patience (by the community) to give her a chance to learn the department, learn her office, learn the community and learn the issues,” he said.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges