Officer Philip M. Davis, a Pelham, Alabama Police Officer for 4 /2 years was killed during a traffic stop on December 4, 2009. His Chief, Tommy Thomas, eloquently stated, “Officer Davis sacrificed all his tomorrows to give us safety today.” His murderer was sentenced to death on June 16, 2011. Much has happened since that fateful night that brings home the legacy this officer achieved.
On September 29, 2010, Officer Davis was posthumously awarded Officer of the Year, not for his tragic death, but for his achievements during his life. The Pelham community recognized his achievement of undergraduate and graduate degrees, service as an instructor at ITT Institute Criminal Justice Program and his exemplary service as a police officer, training officer and crime scene officer.
He also served his community, teaching women’s self defense courses at Valley Christian Church. His students and self defense partner remember him as a gentle giant with an engaging, funny and caring personality. Pelham Police Chief Tommy Thomas described him as very intelligent, skilled, with a great sense of humor and a tremendous asset to the department.
The community of Pelham rallied around Officer Davis’ wife, Paula and their two young children, aged 2 years and 9 months at the time of his death. They took up a collection and helped her pay off the mortgage on the home they had together. Each December, since the tragedy, the community and the Police Department gather to remember Officer Davis and his legacy.
Paula, turning tragedy into help for others, has established the Philip Mahan Davis Foundation. The Foundation is a non profit organization dedicated to supporting the families of Alabama police officers killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty.
The Foundation provides resources to remember the sacrifices of both the families and the officers. It assists in the financial, emotional and psychological costs and brings together the resources of Alabama communities and businesses in support of the valued service of police officers to their communities.
In a further recognition of Officer Davis’ legacy, the state of Alabama passed legislation brought by Senator Cam Ward in 2011 to name the section of Interstate 65 North from mile marker 234 to the Shelby and Jefferson county line “Philip M. Davis Highway”. It was this section of highway that Officer Davis gave his life.
The tragedy cannot be erased, but Officer Davis, his wife, Paula and the community of Pelham have given us a glimpse into the aftermath and recovery efforts after a line of duty death. Communities supporting officers and their families, benefits not only the family left behind, but the community, as well. Paula Davis credits family and community support for helping her deal with the loss of her husband she described as “keeping a smile on her face”.
Officer Davis was the first line of duty death for Pelham Police Department, established 45 years ago. His loss is a stark reminder that there are no routine calls, even in a small community in central Alabama. To support Officer Davis’ and his wife, Paula’s legacy, the link to his foundation follows:
Officer Philip M. Davis, gone but never forgotten.
EOW: December 4, 2009
Juli Adcock began her career in law enforcement with the Escambia County Florida Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy until she was injured in a riot situation. She transferred to Judicial Security and retired in 1998. Juli pursued career advancement training with an emphasis on officer survival, interviews and interrogation. She worked with a local Rape Crisis Center and in victim’s advocacy, complementing her college course work in psychology. She currently resides in New Mexico and is an instructor with The Appleseed Project (www.appleseedinfo.com). The Appleseed Project is a rifle marksmanship clinic teaching the fundamentals of firing an accurate round downrange every 3 to 4 seconds, out to 500 yards, as well as American history. She has trained military personnel at White Sands Missile Range who are certifying as Squad Designated Marksmen. Juli instructs basic handgun skills to new gun owners in preparation for responsible personal gun ownership and the Concealed Carry class for the State of New Mexico. She can be reached at [email protected]or through Law Enforcement Today.