Keith Davis Becomes New Perk Campus Police Chief

The community is Perkinston. The place is Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College's Perk Campus, with more than a thousand students, not to mention the faculty and staff.

His name is Davis. He wears a badge.

In some ways new Perk Campus Police Chief Keith Davis and Sgt. Joe Friday from the 1960s TV series "Dragnet" are kindred spirits. Friday was a no-nonsense, "just the facts ma'am" type of cop, a guy who caught the bad guys with solid police work instead of brute force.

Davis, who replaces Ricky Farmer, also considers himself a thinking man's police officer. In his eight years with the Gulfport Police Department and the Harrison County Sheriff's Department, Davis said he spent most of his time doing investigative work and making lots of influential contacts with other law enforcement agencies.

"I worked in narcotics and street-crimes units," Davis said. "In those days I did a lot of undercover work. We plan to do some of that here as well. When you're talking about a college security staff, you're only as good as your surrounding agencies. We've got some good ones in South Mississippi, and I plan to use those contacts in this job."

Just four days after being sworn in as chief, Davis got some help from Windy Swetman of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department in the form of two stationary traffic radars set up on two main roads on campus.

"The first week I was here, we went to pull on to Wire Road, and a speeding car flew right by us," Davis said. "That caught my attention immediately. So we set up the radars on Wire Road and Perkinston Silver Run Road. We hope to follow that up with patrols in those areas from state troopers."

That experience, and those contacts are what convinced Michelle Sekul, Perk Campus dean of Student Services, to hire Davis.

"Chief Davis comes to us with 13 years of law enforcement experience," Sekul said. "Within those 13 years is extensive criminal and narcotics investigation.  Keith is committed to excellence, but more importantly, he is committed to making a difference in the lives of our students and campus police officers.  He will be a positive role model for our students and lead by example. I am very excited about the opportunity to work with Keith and learn from him."

Right now, Davis said his main concern is getting into the flow of his new position, getting to know his 18-member staff, and most importantly, serve the college and its students.

"Working with the kids is one of the most important aspects of this job," he said. "They're here to better their lives. Our goal is what I call the 'weed and seed' system. We want to weed out the bad, and seed in the good. Before I took this job, I asked myself 'am I ready?'"

"The answer is yes. I think we're evolving from a campus security force into being a police department."