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Snow Hill Police Chief announces resignation, may pursue music

Snow Hill Police Chief Tom Davis last week announced he would retire. While his next move is so far uncertain, he may pursue his lifelong passion of playing music.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 31, 2019) Snow Hill Police Chief Tom Davis may be trading his badge for a trumpet.

Davis, 58 and a Baltimore native, announced his resignation as police chief in a Jan. 26 Facebook post. His last day is Feb. 8 and his next move is not yet known, although it could involve his love of music.

“Yesterday, I resigned as Snow Hill’s Chief of Police. I will be seeking the next chapter’s opportunities,” Davis said in the post.

According to his professional website, Davis began playing trumpet at age 9 and today performs in styles ranging from big band and jazz, to classical and ceremonial wedding music.

Davis had a 26-year career with the Maryland State Police and held the rank of first sergeant before retiring in 2014. He returned school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music performance at Salisbury University and in Dec. 2016 graduated with honors.

A month earlier, in Nov. 2016, he was named Snow Hill police chief, succeeding former Chief James Pilchard.

Davis elaborated on the reasons for his departure during a phone interview Monday.

“I believe that I pretty much accomplished the things that I could get done as far as improving the quality of life for the benefits … for the officers,” Davis said. “I don’t see a possibility as to making any more headway with things such as retirement benefits. And I’ll leave it at that.”

Davis wanted to see the department covered by the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System, or LEOPS, program through the State of Maryland, but town officials apparently decided it was too expensive.

“That’s why we keep losing people,” he said. “We lost a 10-year veteran and a five-year veteran in the last two years because of not having LEOPS, and we just can’t keep them.

“We can’t compete with the bigger departments and until the town decides to take the step [that will continue]. And it would be fairly inexpensive at this point, because we only have one person that we’d have to buy the LEOPS for,” Davis continued. “It would be minimal to do it and now’s the time to do it.”

Despite that difficulty, Davis said he would miss “just being the chief in general.”

“I really enjoyed the job. I enjoyed accomplishing a lot of things. I made a lot of improvements,” he said. “I took morale form the pits to as high as I could get it, [and] made massive improvements to the department and its standards.”

He said the department had been “way behind” in training standards in particular.

“I got us all up to speed, so I feel really good about that. I created the two-manual system – an operations manual and an administrative manual,” Davis said, adding there previously was a manual, but “nobody could really find it.”

“The guys weren’t held [accountable] and hadn’t seen it, so I had to basically start from scratch,” he said. “The previous chief, Pilchard, who was here for 18 months, had begun the process and I took it over and actually got those things completed. It was a lot of work, but it was a big accomplishment and they needed it – we have to have rules and regulations.”

Davis said he also instituted an annual awards program for the officers to help boost morale.

“I also helped improve reporting requirements, report writing [and] I think basic professionalism throughout the department with contacting the community, and I’ll miss all of that,” he said. “I’ll miss giving the best that we could with what we had and bringing everybody up to their highest level possible.”

As for what he would do next, Davis is undecided. He added, with a laugh, that he was “a very young 58.”

“I am looking into several possibilities and it could be in or out of law of law enforcement – and there is a music job that I may be auditioning for,” he said.

He could not comment further because the position had not yet been made public.

“As far as the vacancy that’s going to take place, actually that came to my attention after I posted [the announcement] on Facebook,” he said. “I’ve already had a couple offers in law enforcement, with potentially a couple more spinning.

“The music thing, once I posted that somebody called and said they were going to be leaving a job and recommended me for the trumpet spot,” he continued. “It’s a professional gig and he’ll be making that announcement this week. He has to recommend two people to fill in and that’s what’s required from his position. I was the top nominee and we’ll see if I get it. I’ll be auditioning and it’s big-time thing, and we’ll see what happens.

“I’m open to all kinds of possibilities. I just decided it was time to leave,” Davis said.

Whether he will stay in the area also remains unknown.

“My wife and I – we’re just going to throw it all out there and see what sticks and see what doesn’t,” he said. “We’ve discussed moving and we just don’t know until we know. But, it definitely could be out of the area – particularly if this music thing happens.”