BY KEVIN DIFFILY // MAY 1, 2013 //
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis spoke to a group of Curry students and faculty yesterday about leadership, his experience in management, and, of course, the recent Boston Marathon bombings.
“After 35 years, I can tell you I’ve never seen anything like what happened that day two weeks ago,” Davis told a captivated audience in the Hafer Academic Building Parents Lounge.
Davis, who speaks to Curry Professor Sharon Sinnott’s Leadership Communication class on an annual basis, typically shares his experiences working his way up from a police officer in Lowell to becoming the head of the Boston Police Department. This time, however, the commissioner had far more timely stories to tell.
Davis, 57, stressed the role that the community played in the eventual apprehension of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and killing of his brother, Tamerlan. Dzhokhar has been charged federally with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property. Tamerlan was killed during a gunfight with police in Watertown on Saturday, April 20.
“Ultimately, it was the people who solved this,” Davis said. He praised residents who welcomed SWAT teams into their homes during the April 20 manhunt for the surviving Tsarnaev brother, as well as those who provided the police and FBI with information and evidence to assist in the investigation.
While the focal point and majority of his speech related to the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing case, Davis began by telling his story of ascension through the police ranks to commissioner. He spoke of his managing style and how it has changed over the years.
“It wasn’t until I started to examine what I did that I started to change the way I managed,” Davis said. His transformation was largely based on the constructive criticisms he received from his peers and those who he managed.
Davis’s audience was primarily made up of communication and criminal justice majors, and he had a plethora of advice and information for both groups. The commissioner encouraged students to follow their passions, and to work hard in pursuit of their goals.
“Let [employers] know what you want to do, and why you’re the best person to do it,” he said with regard to applying for jobs. “Rejection is a temporary thing. Be persistent.”
Though he split his speech up into two components—a description of his leadership experience, followed by his account of the Boston Marathon bombings—there was a catchphrase Davis used throughout: speak up.
“It’s really what distinguishes you: the ability to speak up,” said Davis. That sentiment applied both to students attempting to gain employment in their desired fields, and members of the community who assisted with the eventual capture of the younger Tsarnaev brother.
Davis emphasized that the police serve their community, and vice versa. He drew comparisons to the role ordinary citizens played in the days when law enforcement was initiated.
“The enlistment of the community is vital. Laws only exist as long as the people support these laws,” said Davis, a native of Lowell.
Students were very pleased by what Davis had to say. They appreciated some of the closure he provided regarding the bombings and ensuing manhunt.
“It made the situation, what happened, that much more real,” said Kevin Fruwirth, a junior criminal justice major and captain of Curry’s football team. “It was great to get first-hand information on the process he had to go through with his team to solve the case. It was good to hear it straight from someone involved, instead of social media.”
Added Gregory Manly, a junior communication major and a residence assistant: “It was awesome to hear the story of someone so important in such a huge event. Plus, the advice and stories he told about leadership and his own experiences are things I’ll always remember when I apply to jobs.”
Davis has had plenty to deal with lately. He said coming to Curry was almost like a “break for me due to the craziness of the last couple weeks.” However, there was nothing crazy about his overriding message to students:
“The people who speak up…it makes all the difference in the world.”