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Department History

Goliath Davis - SPPD's First Black Chief of Police.

To follow Goliath Davis' path to the head of the St. Petersburg Police Department you must start in Jamestown, a neighborhood of humble homes and tiny businesses where Davis was born and raised. It was there while sitting on the porch of his grandmother's house that Davis would have a conversation with his former mentor that would change his life forever.

Freddie Lee Crawford, one of the first black men to join the city's all-white police force and part of the Courageous 12, stopped by one afternoon while policing the predominantly black, working-class community. At 23, Davis had already earned a bachelor's degree in behavioral science from Rollins College. He had also studied in the West Indies, Bahamas and France and was now pondering his future.

“Why not give law enforcement a try?” Crawford asked.

Before Davis could finish airing his laundry list of reasons about why he couldn't or wouldn't join the force, Crawford told Davis that instead of criticizing the police department, he should try to bring about change.

"He said you can't criticize the police department if you don't become actively involved in trying to change things," Davis recalled. "Make a difference. Do something that is going to be worthwhile that will also be rewarding and would make a contribution to the city."

Davis did just that. He joined the department in September 1973, and quickly became known as a no-nonsense officer who expected no less than the best from himself and his colleagues. His career included stints as a patrol officer in his old neighborhood, a public safety agent, a recruiter, and an adjunct college professor.

Davis was promoted to deputy chief in 1984 and assistant chief in 1989. He headed the patrol services and administrative services divisions.

Between assignments and promotions, Davis attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He also earned a master's degree in criminal justice from USF and a doctorate in criminology from Florida State University.

On Aug. 5, 1997, Davis took his mentor, Freddie Crawford, up on his challenge, and was appointed St. Petersburg's first Black Chief of Police.

Chief Goliath Davis

Chief Goliath Davis

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