If you ask Sergeant Sam Davis to explain his most ardent hope for his professional legacy, he will tell you this.
“My hope is that when I leave the field of law enforcement and civil service, that people will say that I did everything that I could to stay the course, to educate the community, to bring more into the fold, and to be professional, tactful, but open,” he reflected.
Sergeant Davis is fulfilling that goal everyday as he balances his work as the Director of Training for the Broome County Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Academy and as an adjunct instructor in SUNY Broome’s Criminal Justice and Emergency Services department.
A class with Sgt. Davis is ideal for both the student who is hopeful to become a police officer and looking for mentorship and the student who will never enter a career in civil service, but would like to know more about the resources and services that our law enforcement officials provide to our community.
“Teaching at SUNY Broome (Davis’ alma mater) is such a great opportunity. I am able to connect with the young people of our community and to educate them while explaining the realities of life and encouraging them to ask questions that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to ask,” he said.
A native of Avoca, NY, Sgt. Davis is the youngest of twelve children. When he was three years old, he tragically lost his mother to cancer. Then, at twelve, he lost his father to cancer as well, leaving Davis to be raised by members of his large family.
Amongst Davis’ family and neighbors in his rural town, education was not considered to be a top priority. His father had a sixth grade education. Sgt. Davis, however, always felt that he was destined for something more and was deeply driven to become college educated.
At eighteen, Davis left Avoca, NY to attend Alfred State University and began studying to become a probation officer. While at Alfred State, he met his wife. When the couple realized that they were expecting their first child, they decided to leave Alfred State and return to his wife’s hometown in Broome County.
While trying to establish himself in a new community, Davis took a series of temporary positions which connected him to Amphenol Interconnect Products. Davis thrived at Amphenol for a decade, but the rise of outsourcing in manufacturing caused him to reevaluate his career path. With the support of his wife, he began to re-explore the world of civil service.
Sgt. Sam Davis and his wife, Amira, have always been playfully competitive when it comes to education. So when Amira began taking classes at SUNY Broome, Sam followed suit. In 1996, he completed his degree in Criminal Justice A.A.S., not knowing at the time that he would one day be an instructor in that very program.
When his wife decided to continue her education at Binghamton University, the competition stepped up, and Davis followed again. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University in Human Development in 2000.
“I really didn’t know about civil service. I didn’t know who to call, who to talk to, or how to prepare. I knew what I wanted to do, but didn’t know how to get my foot in the door. So that’s where my wife came in. I have to give her credit because she really was the one who steered me in the right direction in respect to civil service. She was very persistent and pushed me to go to Barnes & Noble to buy study guides. She encouraged me to prepare myself and to do research on the local agencies. That’s how I found out that I wanted to be part of the Broome County Sheriff’s Department,” he reflected.
After a two year stint as a member of the police force on Binghamton University’s campus, Davis joined the Broome County Sheriff’s Department. In his current role as Director of Training, Sgt. Davis coordinates the Broome County Law Enforcement Academy which supplies forty agencies with trained, law enforcement professionals. There are only fourteen zone academies in the State of New York.
“As Director of the program, I have a very powerful opportunity and I don’t want to squander it. The majority of the people in this profession are caucasian and we are trying to increase the diversity within our field. The fact that I get to supervise our new officers, many of whom may not have even seen another black officer before, makes it so important to me that I make sure that I use every moment of the thirty-one weeks of training that I have with them to treat my students fairly and educate them on all of the things that I think they need to know as new officers. I try to include what is going on in society and keep my ears to the ground to stay in touch with the needs of the community to share with the officers,” he said.
Sgt. Davis has found a way to unite his SUNY Broome students and Academy students through initiatives like “Lunch with the Law.” Lunch with the Law events connect high school students, SUNY Broome students, members of the community, and law enforcement officials together to ask and answer questions in the hopes of removing the stigma and misconceptions that often are connected to civil service.
Sgt. Davis is truly passionate about mentorship and shares this advice with any student considering a career in law enforcement.
“Stay the course. We need people in this field who truly want to be here. We don’t need people who just want a badge. You have to do this job because it’s in your heart. It’s a hard job. Do your research on the requirements and departments and make sure that you genuinely want to serve. I wish that I had entered the field of law enforcement earlier in life. I wish that I had more time to make more of an impact.”