JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — A local Newport News police officer made the decision to join a long family legacy of military service by enlisting in the Army recently to receive training as a Practical Nursing Specialist.
Officer Darius Davis, a 28-year-old who has been with Newport New Police Department since 2017, wrapped up his duties as a police officer in early August and departed for Army basic training on August 14, 2023 to begin his military career with an eye on future service either as an enlisted leader or as an officer.
“I’m still deciding if I want to do all this and then go to [officer candidate school], or do I want to stay enlisted,” said Davis. “There are so many opportunities out there. I’ve even contemplated about Airborne, Air Assault, or Ranger School, depending on what leadership courses are offered.”
The lifetime resident of the Hampton Roads Region overcame some early challenges in life before becoming a police officer.
“I was born in Virginia Beach to a single mother and grew up in Hampton Roads, a pretty rough part of town,” Davis said. “But we eventually made it to Chesapeake where I graduated high school.”
Davis is proud to be carrying on a legacy of service in his family that dates back to his great-grandfather.
“My great-grandfather, when he came here from Greece, served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years and went civil service for another 20 years,” said Davis. “He was an aviation mechanic and made it all the way up to senior chief petty officer in the Navy, before becoming a chaplain. He did a lot.”
Davis said that many other members of his family served, including his grandfather and grandfather’s siblings who came from Puerto Rico and all joined the Marines. Many aunts and uncles have also served in various branches of the service. But one influenced his choice to go Army.
“My aunt on my father’s side was in the Army, serving in the intelligence field,” Davis said. “She was in the Pentagon on 9/11 during the terrorist attacks. She helped folks escape, even after being injured, and had to medically retire due to her injuries. She continued in the intelligence field as a civilian working with other agencies of the U.S. Government. She was the key influence for me to join the Army and because of her I was initially thinking about going the intelligence route. But I decided to go into the medical field.”
After graduating from Indian River High School in Chesapeake, Davis faced a family challenge that required him to go right to work to keep food on the table and take care of his mother. He took on jobs over time as a mechanic, auto parts store clerk and a nutrition specialist for animals at a pet supply store.
“My mom had a serious medical issue, so I had to grab some odd jobs here and there to take care of her and to pay the bills,” said Davis. “We eventually made it through a rough spot and moved to Newport News in 2017, and I’ve been here ever since.”
According to Davis, he earned some credits in Department of Criminal Justice from the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Department and decided to transfer them to the Newport News Police Academy where he got DCJS certified and certified in the state of Virginia for law enforcement.
“I’ve also gone through numerous FBI classes not only for crisis negotiations, but also for law enforcement certification,” said Davis.
After four years of service with the Newport News Police Department, Davis was selected to become a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics team as a negotiator, based on a real-world rescue for which he received an award.
“In 2019 a young lady was on the James River Bridge threatening to jump off the bridge,” Davis said. “I went out there and talked to her for 45 minutes and ended up getting her off the bridge. I received a lifesaving award for my efforts. I was just putting my best foot forward and talking to someone like they were a human, and this experience kind of led me to the SWAT team as a negotiator.”
So how does a police officer assigned to special weapons and tactics become interested in the medical field and nursing?
“I became interested in the medical side after running security for the Riverside Healthcare System,” Davis said. “After some time, I began to think, since my mom is a medical examiner, my sister is going to school to be a trauma surgeon, maybe I should do something in this field. I have a lot of tactical combat medicine training and real-world practice under my belt, so maybe this is for me.”
Davis started nursing school about three years ago at Thomas Nelson Community College, now called Virginia Peninsula Community College while he was still serving as a police officer.
“So I was doing that while I was a police officer and for two years was working with Riverside, Old Dominion University and VPCC doing various different things for the RN [registered nurse] program,” Davis said. “I ended up getting to the last two semesters for my RN program.”
Davis was close to his goal of getting his degree in nursing when life threw some more challenges at him and his family.
“My wife and I lost a baby by miscarriage, so I had to sit back and put my marriage first,” Davis said. “I was doing about 110 hours a week of school on top of being a cop. It just wasn’t working.”
Given the challenges life was throwing his way and his family history of military service, it was natural for him to consider the military service option.
“Army was my first choice once I realized I was really going to join,” Davis said. “The Army, by far, had way more things that I wanted to do than the other branches. There are far more opportunities for me to advance and far more opportunities for me to make this a career in the Army.”
Davis also felt that his Army recruiter was much more genuine and honest than some of the other services.
“Ironically, I was going to sign a contract for [Psychological Operations] but my recruiter and a sergeant at the [military entrance processing station] talked me into doing nursing,” Davis said. “They said it would be a better choice for where I was in my life, and I agreed.”
When asked about how he felt about shipping off to basic training, his thoughts were about his fellow officers and his family.
“It’s bittersweet because everyone at the Newport News PD is my family,” Davis said. “Everyone from dispatch to the people at my station, the people on the SWAT team, you get this unshakeable bond, like what people experience in the military service. And of course, it will be hard to be away from my wife and son during this extended training period. But we’ve committed together to become an Army family!”
When asked about his long-term goals and where he saw himself in the next five years, Davis was focused more on the near term.
“At this point, my first goal is to get through basic, and my next goal is to get through AIT [advanced individual training],” Davis said. “After that, my next goal is to get acquainted with my first unit and start working, and then I’ll decide what the next steps are from there.”
Davis is scheduled to graduate from Basic Training on October 27, 2023, and will then move on to a 52-week Practical Nursing Course for Advanced Individual Training at the Army’s Medical Center of Excellence, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.