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In Memory of
Edward Michael Ross
November 15, 1916 - April 22, 2006

Edward Michael Davis (November 15, 1916 ~ April 22, 2006) was the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department from 1969~1978, and later a California State Senator from 1980~1992 and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the United States Senate in 1986. Davis' name was familiar to a generation of Americans since it appeared on its own card for technical advice in the closing credits of the popular television programs Dragnet (1967~70) and Adam~12 (1968~75). Edward M. Davis, the blunt-speaking Los Angeles police chief during the Symbionese Liberation Army shootout and the Charles Manson killings who later angered conservatives with his surprisingly moderate positions as a state senator, died Saturday in San Luis Obispo, Calif. He was 89. The cause was pneumonia, said a family spokesman, Eric W. Rose, who was Mr. Davis's press secretary when he was in the California State Senate. In perhaps the most famous of his many off-the-cuff comments, Mr. Davis said in 1972 of hijackers, "I recommend we have a portable gallows, and after we have the death penalty back in, we conduct a rapid trial for a hijacker out there, and hang him with due process out there at the airport." But as Los Angeles police chief from 1969 to 1978, Mr. Davis balanced his tough law-and-order rhetoric with a boots-on-the-ground policing strategy that assigned officers to specific neighborhoods in an effort to build personal ties with residents. In the nine years that Mr. Davis served as chief, crime rates in Los Angeles dipped slightly at a time when they were climbing nationwide. The community policing he championed fell out of favor with the next chief, Daryl F. Gates, but was adopted again by later administrations and is now used by police departments nationwide as an alternative to a more confrontational approach. In a written statement on Monday, the current Los Angeles police chief, William J. Bratton, former police commissioner in New York City, called Mr. Davis "an innovator and no-nonsense chief." Mr. Davis, who earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Southern California, wrote "Staff One," a policing textbook, and lectured on police management at local universities for many years. Photo Edward M. Davis, shown in 1974. Credit Associated Press The most controversial shootouts of Mr. Davis's tenure occurred while he was out of town. In a 1969 standoff at the Black Panther headquarters, six militants and three police officers were wounded. In a 1974 gun battle between the Symbionese Liberation Army and police officers, two S.L.A. members were shot dead and three others were killed when their hideout erupted in flames. After retiring from the Police Department, Mr. Davis entered politics, running unsuccessfully for governor before winning election to the State Senate in 1980 as a Republican representing the solidly conservative north San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas. He surprised and angered many of his supporters, who accused him of favoring a "homosexual agenda," when he voted for a bill that would have prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Mr. Davis also denounced the religious right and said that he would no longer vote against legislation that paid for abortions for poor women. On the environment, he championed the protection of open spaces and opposed offshore oil drilling. Despite being out of tune with many constituents, he remained popular enough to be elected to two more terms. In 1986, Mr. Davis ran for the United States Senate, losing in the Republican primary after he accused an opponent of offering him a $100,000 bribe to drop out of the race. He retired from the State Senate in 1992, moving to Morro Bay, Calif., where current Los Angeles police leaders and elected officials continued to approach him for advice. Mr. Davis was born in Los Angeles on Nov. 15, 1916, and served in the Navy before joining the Los Angeles Police Department in 1940. He was a leader in the police and fire union and was a top aide to Chief William Parker before he was appointed to lead the department in 1969. Mr. Davis is survived by his wife, Bobbie Nash Davis; three children from his first marriage to Virginia Davis, a son, Michael Edward Davis, who is a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, and two daughters, Mary Ellen Burde and Christine Coey; four stepchildren; and 10 grandchildren.