The three finalists for the job of Braintree Police Chief were interviewed in public at Town Hall on Wednesday night. Framingham Deputy Chief Craig W. Davis was among the candidates and a summary of his answers are below.
Posing the questions were Town Solicitor Carolyn Murray, Chief of Staff Peter Morin, Director of Human Resources Karen Shanley and Wayne Sampson, executive director of the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association and former Shrewsbury Police Chief.
Why do you want to be the Chief of Police in Braintree?
Davis said he is familiar with Braintree and the structure of the town because it is very similar to his hometown Framingham. Braintree is divided into clearly defined neighborhoods like Framingham and he is impressed with the town and its residents.
"The government cares about doing the best they can," he said.
Name an achievement from your career and how you accomplished it.
A number of years ago, Framingham police were arresting mentally challenged people repeatedly for minor offenses, Davis said. To make a change, he recruited a crisis clinician to work out of the police department and go along on such calls.
"It created a paradigm shift in the way we do policing in the Town of Framingham," he said.
Eventually he appealed to legislators and there is now a line item in the state budget for similar approaches throughout Massachusetts, he said.
What program or practice would you implement to improve relationships with the community?
His entire career has been built on "building bridges with the community," Davis said. He has a proven record creating such programs, including one of the first DARE programs, and said that he cannot say right now that Braintree does not have similar relationships.
"I'm very receptive to new ideas," Davis said.
What professional challenge have you faced and how did you overcome it?
Throughout his time as a deputy chief, Davis said he has updated policies that have been "fairly stagnant" and created new ones. It has been a team effort, he said, and something that had been tried unsuccessfully in the past.
As a new leader of the department, how would you build consensus with your employees?
"Obviously I'm an outsider," Davis said, and so it would be imperative that he get to know his officers to show them "I'm not the boogeyman."
What is an innovative community program you have implemented?
Davis said he has created a number of community programs during his time with the Framingham police, including a DARE program, the jail diversion program involving the mentally challenged, a SWAT group and others.
What would be your top three priorities?
First would be to get to know people in the community. "That's crucial," Davis said. He would also examine his personnel and look at "high-liability" police procedures, such as vehicle chases, use of force and prisoner transport, to make sure Braintree is up to the current standards.
What would be your plan for the first three months?
"I'm hesitant to say I'm going to make changes [right away]", Davis said. "This is a well-regarded police department. This isn't a broken toy."
Davis said in conclusion that he is not just looking to improve himself, but those around him. A police department, he added, should also act as a "referral agency" for members of the community.
The questions and answers in this article are meant to accurately reflect each interview session but are not verbatim transcripts.