City of Okeechobee Police Chief Davis retires

OKEECHOBEE — “I think Aug. 26 will be the hardest day of my life.”

As Denny Davis softly spoke those words the dread of facing that day dripped from each syllable.

The current chief of police will be ending his 35-year career with the Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD) on that last Friday in August.

“One chapter closes and another one opens,” he said, forcing a smile.

Chief Davis, 58, began his law enforcement career as an auxiliary officer with the OCPD in 1981. At the time, he was a heavy equipment operator for Okeechobee County.

When Chief of Police Denny Davis retires Aug. 26 he will be leaving behind his ‘family in blue’ and starting a new chapter in his life.

When Chief of Police Denny Davis retires Aug. 26 he will be leaving behind his ‘family in blue’ and starting a new chapter in his life.

But, he wanted to be a cop. Even more so, he wanted to be a cop with the city p.d.

So, Denny sat down with Chief Larry Mobley and told him he wanted to be a full-time police officer. But the astute chief held off hiring his lieutenant on the OCPD auxiliary.

“Larry told me after I locked in 10 years with the county to come see him. So, I locked in my 10 years and the very next day Larry hired me as a full-time officer,” Denny recalled.

From that point on, he would bleed OCPD blue.

In October of 1995 Denny made sergeant. He was then promoted to captain in September of 1997. Then, in September of 2000, Denny became Chief Davis and took over for Chief Buck Farrenkopf when he retired.

“When I was first interviewed by Chief Mobley he asked: ‘Where do you see yourself?’ I looked him dead in the eye and said: ‘I want your job.’ He said keep your nose clean, do a good job and keep focused on what you want,” recalled Chief Davis.

Chief Mobley retired in 1997 after spending 25 years with the city.

“If I had to say what Larry taught me it was he didn’t care who you were or how much money you have, he treated everyone the same. He said integrity was everything,” recalled Chief Davis. “As far as I’m concerned, I owe my whole career to Chief Mobley.”

As he thought back, it was evident to him that Chief Farrenkopf groomed him to become chief of police.

“Buck taught me the inner workings of the department and how to deal with the personnel, the city council and what they expected,” Chief Davis said.

“From Day 1 he started to train me to take over his position.”

Even with that early prepping, he said there were still times after he became chief that he would talk with his predecessors and seek their advice.

“I talked to Larry and Buck many times,” he said. “Larry would always say: ‘Listen to the old man.’ He helped me through a lot of situations.”

And, in retrospect, some of those situations tested his resolve — especially, when he had to discipline his employees.

“There were tough days where I had to discipline personnel, including terminating them, when I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in this chair. But, I had to do what I thought was best for the department,” he said. “The good times, though, far outweigh those tough days.”

As he looks back over the years he relishes the fact that the OCPD has become a family. And it’s this ‘family in blue’ that is his biggest source of pride.

“I have been blessed with a good group of men and women. They’ve always served the city well and they’ve always done a good job for me,” he said. “I’m going to miss them. We’re family. I’m going to miss my family. A lot of us started out together at this department.”

Which means he and his wife of 27 years, Margo, will now have time to do some things together. The couple have four children — Miranda, 31, Chris, 26, Kayla, 23, and Wesley, 18.

So, is Margo happy to seen her husband retire?

“I think so. She’s ready for me to retire,” he answered with a smile.

Then, the smile fades as he thinks about all the times he had to be away from his wife and children because of the job, and all the holidays and special days he had to miss.

“It’s the family that has to sacrifice. It’s not just the officers sacrificing when they work Christmas and other holidays — it’s their families, too. I really, really want to say thank you to my family,” said the chief. “I really want to thank my family for their support.”

Being a law enforcement officer is a tough job, and that job has caused many marriages to fail. To be married to a cop takes a special spouse.

The chief said he stresses that point to those who want to become a cop by asking: “When I interview a potential employee the first thing I ask is: ‘Are you married?’ Then, ‘ Does your spouse support you in this career?’ If they don’t, you need to find something else.”

He went on to say he also wanted to say thank you to the City of Okeechobee and the city council “for putting their trust in me.”

While Chief Davis won’t be wearing a badge any more, he’s not getting out of the life all together. He will be joining the Indian River Police Academy as an instructor. He said he will be a high liability instructor which covers such things as firearms, self defense and vehicle operations.

He and Margo will also continue to be house parents at the Real Life Children’s Ranch, as they have for the last 10 years.

Chief Davis said he also plans on taking some road trips on his Harley Davidson motorcycle with some of his buddies.

And while he’s taking in the countryside on his Harley, current OCPD Major Bob Peterson will be the interim chief. But, not for long. Maj. Peterson plans on retiring in December of 2017, pointed out Chief Davis.

The city, he continued, has asked him to sit on the committee that will search for a new full-time chief. So far, he points out, he’s not been asked for any recommendations. Just when the city will hire a new chief is not yet known.

As he thinks about Aug. 26 and its drawing near, Chief Davis becomes pensive as he looks back over the years with his family in blue. And the advice of Chief Mobley to stay focused on his goal of becoming chief of police keeps ringing in his ears.

“I actually enjoyed serving my community. I don’t think I could have found any occupation that I enjoyed doing the last 30 years,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed coming to work every day.

“This was my goal when I came here. And, I made it.”

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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