At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Fort Payne City Council voted to hire David Davis as the next police chief. He succeeds Randy Bynum, who retired from the position on October 1st.
On Dec. 10, the council interviewed Davis and fellow finalist Lee Traylor. Ten applicants sought the job, but it came down to a decision between the two veterans of local law enforcement. Davis leaves his position as chief investigator in the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office major crime unit. Traylor serves as patrol captain for the Fort Payne Police Department.
Council member Phillip Smith made the motion to hire Davis, seconded by Council member John Smith. Before voting, Council President Walter Watson shared his concerns about the message that it would send if they failed to promote Traylor, who spent 23 years working his way up the ranks, starting as a dispatcher. At the same time, Watson made it known that he would support whichever person became the new chief 100% once the decision was made.
They planned to include Council member Johnny Eberhart in the vote via Zoom call, but he was unable to do so while in quarantine for COVID-19.
After the meeting, Traylor was the first to congratulate Davis. The two are long-time friends.
At the interviews, Davis shared some of his plans for the FPPD going forward. These include starting an internship program for new officers out of the police academy so they learn skills they can master on a path toward advancing within the department toward eventually becoming investigators, etc. He thinks this may help with officer retention.
Davis has worked as an instructor of law enforcement and wants to find ways to adequately equip officers to defend themselves while also training to de-escalate dangerous situations and find help for offenders who may have drug abuse or mental health issues rather than simply “locking them away.”
He assured Council members that he would always emphasize doing what is legal and ethical if he’s approached with a request and will communicate with Mayor Brian Baine before making public statements to the news media during emergency situations.
Since Bynum’s departure, Assistant Chief Ronnie Warren has led the department in the interim.