LIVE OAK, Fla. — As it turns out, City Manager Ron Williams didn’t have to go far to find Live Oak’s next police chief.
Keith Davis, a captain at the Live Oak Police Department, was appointed the police chief by Williams on Thursday to replace Buddy Williams, who submitted his resignation July 1. Williams begins Monday as the chief deputy with the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office.
Ron Williams said there was a large amount of interest in the position, both external and internal.
But after discussing the position with several of the internal candidates, he knew he had found the right man in Davis.
“I think his ability to provide continuity,” Williams said, adding he wanted to look at internal candidates first. “He’s a calm, intelligent, real police officer. Kind of a person that really lives law enforcement.
“I think he also really understands the philosophy community policing and treating the community with respect. I thought he could do that very well.”
Davis, who joined the LOPD in 1997, said the emphasis on community policing at the LOPD is one of the reasons he decided to apply for the position once it became open.
“I’ve spent quite a few years assisting Chief Williams trying to develop community policing,” he said, adding there’s some nervousness with the promotion due to some of the unknowns that come with it. “I decided I just wanted to try and step up and continue the efforts that he started and continue to grow and develop into what we can do for our community. Try to continue to make our police department better for our residents and the City of Live Oak.
“I’m gracious I was afforded the opportunity and be selected as next chief of police. I’ll make it a best effort to do the best I can for all involved.”
But during the interview process with Williams, there were discussions on ways to make the police department better and move it forward.
Davis said one area he’d like to invest more time and effort is with investigations. However, he added that is easier said than done because he can’t afford to lose anybody off of patrol.
“Patrol is the backbone of the agency,” he said, adding the key is to attract good applicants so that positions can be filled. “We’ve got to have those guys.
“(Then) we can start making moves to beef up investigations and to be able to invest more man hours in solving other crimes that is harder for guys on patrol to do while still answering calls.”
Like that desire, Davis said ultimately the success of the LOPD won’t be because of him. Rather, he said it will be a team effort, much like it already has been.
“I have a good support system in place,” he said. “It’s not a one-person job. It’s going to take the whole department and whole community to make it a valiant effort and good process for everybody.”
Davis was promoted last July to captain, second in command at the LOPD.
Now, barely a year later, he assumes the top spot.
He said as the transition to chief unfolds he hopes to fill his old position and any other leadership positions in the agency as well, although he added that will take time as well.
“It wasn’t an easy (choice),” Williams said. “It was difficult. Both internal and external, had a lot of interest.
“Keith stood out as the one, who could not only provide continuity but take the department to a level I thought where it should be.”