Anyone who knows Deputy Chief Craig Davis will tell you that in his oath to protect and serve, he goes above and beyond.
Deputy chief since 2001, Davis has been with the Framingham Police Department for 26 years and has garnered numerous accolades along the way. From his devoted work with the Boy Scouts of America and the Rotary Club, to his creation of a first-of-its kind Jail Diversion program which helps people with mental illness avoid jail time, Davis's work has made him somewhat of a local hero.
These are the reasons why Framingham Patch named Davis as the 2010 Man Who Made a Difference in Framingham.
"He's nothing less than an exceptional police officer," said Framingham Police Chief Steven Carl, who has worked with Davis since the very beginning of his career. "In everything he's contributed on the force, whether it was on patrol, in administration or his role as a detective, he has always been a true professional – on or off duty - and is consistently held up as an example of what a good policeman is."
Davis is currently a finalist to become the next Chief of Police in Natick. While Carl said Davis would be missed if he goes, Natick couldn't have a more able candidate.
Carl added that Davis' being the next chief in Natick could also lead "to greater collaboration and a strong partnership" between both the Framingham and Natick police departments.
In addition to his professionalism, Davis has often been praised for his innovative approach to policing and community service, according to Sarah Abbott of Advocates, Inc., a human services organization based in Framingham. Abbott heads up the Jail Diversion, programs that Davis created.
"Craig lends a lot of credibility in the policing world and the way officers interact with the mentally ill. He is a man of integrity and certainly a mentor," she said. "He truly went beyond the work of policing and developed a holistic approach to dealing with the mentally ill. We call it compassionate justice for the mentally ill."
Abbott said Davis' idea for the jail diversion program came about when he was a shift commander and found that he was constantly arresting people with mental illness for minor nuisance crimes. When he was promoted to deputy chief and overseeing the SWAT team, he decided to develop a better, more effective response for his patrol officers. He asked Abbott if Advocates Inc. could provide a clinician to ride around with officers and provide mental health counseling to people involved in these minor offenses.
Since Framingham's Jail Diversion Program began on April 1, 2003, it has won many awards for innovation and excellence and has been replicated by about 15 communities across the state.
"We've done almost 4,000 interventions to date, 75 percent of whom would have been arrested, including people with Alzheimer's and others in the midst of a acute emotional crises," said Abbott.
Davis has also been a tremendous supporter of the Boy Scouts of America. In fact, his son, Josh, is an Eagle Scout, now studying pre-med at Stonehill College, according to Dennis Prefontaine, a scout executive with the Knox Trail Council division of the Boy Scouts of America.
"Craig has done a number of great things for us. He is member of our risk management committee, he monitors all of our shooting sports and advises us on home and neighborhood safety," he said.
Prefontaine said Davis put together a partnership with the Framingham Police Department, the United Way, and the District Attorney's office that identified "at-risk" youths in the community and sent them to camp for five consecutive Saturdays.
"We did all kinds of team building exercises and trust games. We had them up on the high ropes courses by the end and all of the kids – most of them in their early teens – had to keep a journal of their experiences. This never would have come together without Craig," said Prefontaine.
And while Davis often goes beyond the limits of normal police work, he is also well-regarded as a "team player," said Mark Lawless, president of the Framingham Rotary Club.
"Craig can always be relied upon for ideas, quick action, and positive results. He has certainly contributed significantly to Rotary and to the community projects that it supports through his efforts. The Framingham Rotary Club is appreciative and proud of Craig's efforts as a Rotarian and as a community leader.
Lawless said Davis has been elected to an officer position in Framingham Rotary for the 2011 year, "reflecting his fine leadership and management skills as well as the high regard in which he is held by the Rotary Club membership."