Edward Davis

BS Justice Studies, Class of 1986

"My concentration in human services was extremely helpful to me."

In the first three years Edward Davis ’86 was Boston’s police commissioner, serious crimes decreased by 18 percent and shootings dropped by 40 percent.

Hired as the city’s top cop in 2006, Davis is a longtime champion of community policing, which emphasizes crime prevention over arrests and prosecution. In Boston’s most violent neighborhoods, he has deployed “safe street teams” of officers whose responsibilities include building the community relationships that help prevent crime.

Davis’ SNHU studies in criminal justice and human services laid the groundwork for his law enforcement leadership.

“My concentration in human services was extremely helpful to me,” he says. “Understanding grassroots organizations, communities and how nonprofits work is extremely important to modern-day policing in urban areas in the United States.”

Born and raised in Lowell, Mass., Davis joined his hometown police force in 1978 and transferred to SNHU in 1984. The school’s weekend classes allowed him to earn a bachelor’s degree while working full time, he says.

The university “offered me an opportunity to go to school on the weekends. That was very important to me, because I was working all week, and I was also in court frequently during the day, so I couldn’t go to a conventional school.”

During a 28-year career in Lowell, Davis worked as a beat cop, a detective, and a vice and narcotics officer before being named chief in 1994. He was only the second candidate in 35 years to be hired as Boston’s police commissioner from outside the department.

Davis says that while police work can be exciting, its long-term benefit comes from serving others.

“It’s not about the running and gunning that the cops like to talk about when they first come on the job,” he says. “It’s really more about affecting people’s lives in a positive way.”