DURHAM, N.C. – Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield announced today that he has chosen Cerelyn “CJ” Davis as Durham’s new police chief, and she will start the job June 6, 2016. Davis currently serves as Deputy Chief of the City of Atlanta Police Department.
“I am pleased that Deputy Chief Cerelyn Davis has accepted the offer to lead the Durham Police Department,” Bonfield said. “Deputy Chief Davis, during the course of her 30-year career, has demonstrated a broad array of skills and experience that will serve Durham well at this time. As we know, this is an extremely challenging time for policing, not only in Durham, but also throughout the country. Durham was quite fortunate to have two very strong candidates.”
“I am both appreciative and humbled to have been selected as the City of Durham’s new police chief. I enthusiastically look forward to working with the men and women of the Durham Police Department, to further build a culture of trust and collaboration in partnership with the citizens we serve,” Davis said.
Davis was chosen following a four-month search process that included several community meetings to assess the needs of the community, intensive screenings, interviews and background checks for selected candidates, and finally, an April 6 public forum with the two finalists, Davis and Major Michael Smathers of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The field started with 42 applicants.
Davis has served as deputy chief since February 2014, and currently directs the Strategies & Special Projects Division. Her current responsibilities include overseeing new technology within the Police Department, the Atlanta Police Leadership Institute, the Tactical Crime Analysis Unit, Planning and Research, Public Affairs, Inspections, the Retired Officers Program, and all major capital projects.
Over the course of her career with the department, Davis has held the ranks of patrol officer, detective, and sergeant. As a lieutenant, Davis served as the personnel commander, public affairs manager, and executive assistant to the Police Chief. She was also appointed as the commander of the department’s Homeland Security Unit. Additional responsibilities included overseeing the Intelligence and Organized Crime Unit, Gun and Gang Unit, Cyber Crimes Unit, Tactical Equipment Unit, and all satellite investigators assigned to the DEA, FBI, ATF, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. While serving as the department’s emergency preparedness coordinator, Davis partnered with agencies such as the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Anti-Defamation League, local consulates, and the State of Georgia.
Davis has also served as the commander of the Special Enforcement Section, which included Homeland Security, Narcotics, Vice, Licenses and Permits, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Project Safe Neighborhood, Weed and Seed, Human Trafficking, and the now disbanded Red Dog Unit. As a major, Davis served as the commander of the Office of Professional Standards, assistant commander at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Precinct, project manager for the department’s Community-Oriented Policing Section, and project manager in the Office of the Mayor.
Davis also was one of eight women from across the country recognized in 2008 for their significant contribution to public service by “O” magazine, and was selected from over 3,000 applicants to participate in the “O” Whitehouse Leadership Project.
Davis has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Saint Leo University; a master’s degree in General Administration from Central Michigan University; is currently a Northcentral University Doctoral Candidate in Business Administration (pending dissertation completion); and completed the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy, 225th Session. To view her complete résumé, visit the City’s website.