Port’s current police chief is the first minority in the role

Port of Beaumont Chief of Police Stephen P. Davis

Being the first black chief of police for the Port of Beaumont isn’t something Stephen P. Davis thinks too much about.

“After having my job for five years, I never thought I was the only minority in this position with the Port of Beaumont,” Davis said when he first heard the news – this week being interviewed for the subject of a Black History Month article. “It probably demonstrates that I don’t concentrate on those things.”

Davis never tried to be the first; he just was.

Lee Smith, vice president of the Board of Commissioners of the Port of Beaumont and a member since 2002, said he did put thought into expanding the cultural climate at the port.

“When the job came open, I spoke with (Port of Beaumont Director Chris Fisher) because I felt it was feasible to get someone who was really qualified … but I also thought we should be able to make sure we’re being inclusive of everyone who would qualify for that job,” Smith said.

Established by the 51st Texas Legislature in 1949 as a political body and governmental entity of the state of Texas, the Port of Beaumont never had a minority in the role of police chief before Davis, Smith said. And likely, Smith added, never had a better police chief than the one currently on staff.

“He’s a fine young man and an outstanding person,” Smith said. “We couldn’t have gotten a finer man. He’s a real blessing.”

Davis said ending up at the Port of Beaumont was a blessing for him, as well, and serendipitous perfect timing.

“The previous chief was retiring from the port at the same time I was retiring from the Coast Guard,” Davis said. “Sure enough, I got a job interview for the position.”

That was in December 2011; he started as the port’s chief of police in January 2012.

Prior to taking over as lead law enforcer and facility security officer for the port, Davis served in the U.S. Coast Guard for over 20 years, retiring as senior chief petty officer (SCPO) E-8. He also served as an adjunct instructor for the New Jersey Department of Corrections Division of Criminal Justice Correctional Officer Training Academy, where he was an expert in the demonstration of skills and curriculum for law enforcement administrative staff and personnel. Davis is a certified Texas peace officer, certified State of Texas Level II security guard, and MARAD certified facility security officer. He has studied management proficiency at Sam Houston University Law Enforcement Management Institute, graduated the Texas Police Chief Leadership Series (TPCLS) in Huntsville, and obtained his associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees – while also certifying in specialty fields and serving in the Coast Guard.

“You have to be more definitive, more specialized,” Davis said, to be a true asset in the field of port and naval security. And all the training he has undertaken up to this point has made him perfectly fit for the job, which entails physical security and asset management at the port.

“It’s basically a job that is tailor-made for what I do,” he said. Davis oversees 35 contract guards from Patriot Security and six police officers, and manages projects, portfolios and incidents such as storms. “All I’m doing is really the same thing I’ve always done. I just changed my hat” and jurisdiction.

Davis arrived in Southeast Texas with the Coast Guard in 2006, he said, and immediately knew he found his home.

“I stayed here on active duty for six years. … I stayed on reserve orders … (was) promoted as E6, then E7, then E8, Senior Chief, and retired in 2011,” he said. “I wanted to stay here.”

Both of Davis’ parents from Virginia are deceased, and the port police chief is the baby of six siblings – three brothers and two sisters – none of whom live in Texas. Still, he says, Texas is where his heart is.

“Being here through Hurricane Ike, that definitely was an eye-opener. To actually watch (from the first responders staging area) as soon as the ramp came down to these flooded areas, there were first responders waiting to go out and help the people. You see incidents of natural disasters and citizens coming together, but here it really is something else.

“If you’ve never been through a hurricane in Southeast Texas, it’s pretty amazing … neighbors helping each other, everyone from the same village.”

Davis hopes one day to be Beaumont’s mayor, or at least be on the forefront as Beaumont moves on to the next big thing as the future promises growth and potential for the municipality Davis adopted as home.

“I would like to be part of the revitalization that I read so much about,” Davis said. “I hope that I’m a part of it, not just standing on the sidelines.”

Davis works to be a part of Beaumont’s progress even now, sitting on a Lamar Institute of Technology board facilitating scholarships for students during Black History Month, and pressing forward in an attempt to assist in job growth in port industry positions and more.

“When my journey started in Virginia, I never thought I would make a difference, but I am so glad that Southeast Texas gave me the opportunity to prove that anything is possible,” Davis said. “I fight the good fight; that’s all I can do.”