Prepared remarks by President Mitchell R. Davis III, Chief of Hazel Crest PD

August 20, 2021
At the Annual Awards Banquet of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police
Tinley Park, Illinois

"What’s the big deal about being the first Black President?" Breaking new ground and serving as a beacon of hope 

President Davis spoke before a crowd during the annual award banquet held Aug. 20 in Tinley Park. The remarks were his first major address since being installed as ILACP's 73rd president on April 30, 2021. 



Good evening! I want to thank God for the opportunity to stand before you as the President of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

I want to thank the Board of Officers and the Executive Board for all that you do. Thanks to Executive Director Ed Wojcicki and the ILACP staff for your tireless work. A special thank you goes to Immediate Past President Jim Black for his leadership and friendship. Because of COVID, he was not able to have his dinner last year so I would like for us to give him a round of applause. God knew what He was doing when He placed Chief Black in charge of leading us during this past year.

Thanks to my friend, Attorney General Kwame Raoul for always making yourself available. Thanks to my President Eugene Williams and my Chicago Metropolitan Chapter NOBLE family, also President Mike Jones and my South Suburban Chiefs family. A special thanks goes to Mayor Vernard Alsberry, Hazel Crest Elected Officials, and Village Manager Dante Sawyer for allowing me to do all the things that I do and carry the Hazel Crest name across the state and country. Of course I want to thank my amazing staff at the Hazel Crest Police Department. I would not be able to participate in all these things without them. Thank you for making us all Hazel Crest Proud.

I also thank my childhood friends, elected officials, fraternity brothers, boating family, and citizens that love and support me in my many endeavors. I finally want to thank my biggest cheering section; my family. My sister, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and all the rest. Thanks to my mother who has always encouraged us to strive for greatness and I am so happy that she is here to witness this day. I lost my father a little over a year ago, but I know that he is smiling down on me tonight.

Thanks to my 4 kids and 4 grandkids for the joy that they bring me. And last, but not least I want to thank my wife Carla. She is the recipient of all of the good, bad, and ugly that I have to offer in life. She is the one that gets left in the shadows and quite often neglected while I am wearing all the hats that I wear. She is the one that sees me come home exhausted at the end of the day when I’m too tired or thoughtless to engage her in conversation. She is the one who sacrifices and makes her schedule revolve around mine. I thank God for you.

For years I have sat at the closing dinner for our conferences watching the slideshow of the association’s Past Presidents scroll on the screens of various banquet halls across the state of Illinois. Each year as I watched that slideshow, one thing was glaringly apparent. There was no one that looked like me. While I obviously haven’t been around for the entirety of our organization’s 80-year history, I have no doubt that there have been Police Chiefs of color in the State of Illinois that have been worthy of having their picture amongst such a prestigious display of leaders. In spite of the attributes and expertise of those many great men and women of color before me, God saw fit to make me the first Black President of this great organization. 

I’m sure that there are those that are saying to themselves, “What’s the big deal with being the first Black President and why does he keep bringing it up?” The best way to begin to address that question is to tell you how I got here. A few years ago, one of those faces that didn’t look like me that I would see scrolling on the slideshow approached me. Past President Chief Pat O’Conner said to me, “Mitch it makes no sense that we have never had a Black President and its time for that to change. I would like to for you to consider running for office. Not just because you are Black, but because you are a respected leader that happens to be Black.” Pat went on to promote me and may candidacy around the State of Illinois and I won. Since that time, at least 13 of those faces that don’t look like me and many others have grown to be some of my greatest friends, colleagues, and mentors.

 Russ Laine tribute… [read from exchange of texts] 

What’s the big deal about being the first Black President? For me it is an assignment from God that I do not take lightly. It is no coincidence that this time for demands of criminal justice reform and racial reconning falls during my presidency. After sharing with a group of colleagues that there had been a meeting of Black Chiefs to share our point of view on the recent criminal justice reform law, one of them asked what Black Chiefs might say differently from White Chiefs. I went on to explain that different races have different cultural experiences, and one of the main differing experiences that people of color have from everyone else are our experiences with law enforcement. Many of you have heard me share that while I have had many, my worst two experiences with the police were both while I was the police… These and other lived adverse experiences that are a direct result of walking through this world as a Black man provide me with a unique perspective that others may not share. It is my prayer that by sharing my perspective and the trauma, yes trauma, that is associated with it I can help others in this noble profession to grow. 

What’s the big deal about being the first Black President? I hope to use my position to be a voice in the criminal justice system for those that feel disenfranchised and voiceless in matters that pertain to how their communities are policed. I also want to educate communities that there are great members of law enforcement that are there to serve and protect them and their communities. Not just Black officers, but officers of all colors.

What’s the big deal about being the first Black President? It allows me to be a beacon of hope. To be an example to the young Black Chief, the young Black Patrolman, the young Black kid that attaining these heights are possible and worthy to pursue. To be able for them to see someone that looks like them. 

What’s the big deal about being the first Black President? That an association of 1,300 members in a state with over 800 agencies would bestow upon me the honor of serving as President. It has allowed me to work with organizations like Special Olympics and others. It has allowed me to meet people who started as corporate partners and grew into friends. 

What’s the big deal about being the first Black President? My dad told me when I became a police chief for the first time that my accomplishments allow him and other elders to have a sense of pride because they never had similar chances in their lifetime to do so. Those words are reenforced when people who I have never met before stop me in public to tell me that they are proud of me. It also shows in the faces of the kids that I stop to interact and take pictures with wearing my hat. A friend of mine would always tell who I was when he introduced me to people…

What’s the big deal about being the first Black President? It has allowed me to serve this noble profession that I love so much with hopes of making it better. Most importantly, it puts me in position to fulfill my assignment from God!

The challenges that we are currently faced with present a time of opportunity…

Oh, one last thing! What’s the big deal about being the first Black President? It allows me to set the stage for our 2023 dinner, when people will be asking, “What’s the big deal about being the first FEMALE President?” [a reference to Chief Laura King, 2nd Vice President, who will become ILACP president in April 2023]

I thank you all for being here and ask for your prayers as we do the work at hand!

About Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police  

Since 1941, ILACP has served as the professional development association for Chiefs of Police and other community leaders committed to public safety in Illinois. The statewide organization serves 1200 members working in more than 450 agencies, providing them with innovative services, training, and partnerships. ILACP advocates for legislation and policies that protect and improve police forces and the communities they serve.