A new Gallup poll out Thursday shows confidence in police has hit a new low. Only 48% of Americans say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence. That’s down from 53% in the last year.
Is that true locally?
Chief Pam Davis is one of just two women who run a local law enforcement agency, and she is quick to say what we’re seeing nationally is not what she’s experiencing in Punta Gorda.
Make no mistake, being a cop is never easy. Davis has seen and overcome sexism to get where she is and says her struggles were well worth it.
She’s a police chief who credits a dog for directing her life of law enforcement.
“I saw a canine demonstration by one of our local agencies back in Maryland and as soon as I saw this I said, ‘You know, this I want to become: a canine handler,'” Davis said.
She did become a canine handler and then steadily moved up the ranks. When she went to the police academy, she was one of just four women.
“Toward the end of the class, we were almost getting ready to graduate and they ended up having to terminate the class due to budget cuts,” she said.
When the budget crisis got resolved, Davis got a taste of discrimination.
“The other three ladies were not hired back and it was based on their sexual orientation,” she explained.
“When you were a rookie, were you treated with the respect of your peers, do you feel,” we asked.
“As a young female officer, you almost have to prove yourself, so back then it was really a lot of the male officers, didn’t even really want you responding to their calls and then once you’ve proved that you could make that arrest on your own, that’s when you started to be accepted,” she said.
Davis believes it’s still tough for any officer to earn acceptance among the ranks and that can be true in her current role.
“People always say, ‘How do you feel about being the first female chief?’ I don’t want to be judged on my gender and I’ve always been that way and I think i just go out and do my job,” she said.
She says the people of Punta Gorda make her job much easier.
“We hear our community. We’re doing everything we can to make sure we have that great relationship with our community. We actually appreciate everybody that has been showing their support in us,” Davis said.
Davis said she gets why there are people here and across the nation who question the motives of police. All she wants for herself and for her officers is to be judged not by their race or sex, but by the job they do.
On Friday, she will tell us how she hopes to get more women into policing and what her first reaction was to the killing of George Floyd.