During her time as a community services officer with the Port Townsend Police Department, Wendy Davis has problem-solved countless logistical issues to keep large community events safe for …
During her time as a community services officer with the Port Townsend Police Department, Wendy Davis has problem-solved countless logistical issues to keep large community events safe for attendees.
But the local cop has decided to replace her badge with a whisk as she focuses on operating her own commercial kitchen space, Lila’s Kitchen.
Davis said prior to starting her career in law enforcement, her background was spent mostly in the hospitality industry.
“I’ve been in every position — front of the house, back of the house, bars, hotels, server, owner, manager — all of it,” Davis said.
In 2014, Davis made the decision to pivot from the hospitality industry in favor of a more community-oriented profession.
“I was hitting my mid-40s and I was ready for something more challenging,” she said.
“It was a pull I’d had for a long time. I wanted to be more helpful in my community than I was in the roles that I’d been to date. I wanted to be more effective.”
Initially, Davis began her work as a legal assistant for the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office, but after a ridealong with a Port Townsend police officer, she was hooked.
“I remember thinking, ‘This is what people do for work?’ Because it was so fun,” Davis recalled. “It was unlike anything I’d ever done before.”
Following her firsthand immersion into police work, and despite not having any family that had served in law enforcement before, Davis felt the call to serve her community as an officer and applied to the Law Enforcement Reserve Academy and soon thereafter, to the Basic Law Enforcement Academy.
“That did not come without its challenges. Being in your mid-40s, a female going into law enforcement, it was a huge learning curve,” she said.
“I had to be fully dedicated to physical fitness, but also defensive tactics, range work — I’d never even picked up a firearm before — I mean, everything was brand-new.”
After completing the basic academy, Davis arrived at the Port Townsend Police Department in 2016 to discover that she would be the department’s inaugural community services officer — a new position created shortly before her arrival.
Davis had to figure out how the position would work in the department.
“I think I have the right type of organizational skills, coupled with a history in hospitality — I just was able to apply what I’d learned through both academies,” Davis said. “I just dedicated myself to learning all of the parameters of what we needed to work with in order to keep citizens and participants safe during all of our many events and festivals.”
Davis said good communication skills were key to guaranteeing effective emergency preparedness at festivals and events, especially when working with multiple assisting agencies.
“I really leaned on people who already had historical knowledge that could help me along the way, so I could then fill in a role in the parts that weren’t being done,” Davis said. “Some of these really large [events] like the Rhododendron Festival, there’s so much logistics.”
In addition to her work on local events, Davis said she also found her work as the department’s forensic child interviewer and animal control to be particularly rewarding.
Other challenges followed. With the arrival of COVID-19 putting a stop to large in-person gatherings, a significant focus of Davis’ work within the department was left in limbo.
“I’ve really enjoyed being able to help the Department of Emergency Management early on, and work on their incident command center,” she said. “We were going through the big exercise of running an incident command for the county, for this giant event called COVID.”
Local government’s shining moment, Davis said, came as she and other organizers worked to roll out the “streeteries” which would allow for restaurants to serve customers outdoors amid the ban on indoor dining.
“About as quickly as you could ever see government move, we managed to get permitting,” Davis said.
“We all said that was one of the greater accomplishments that all of us have encountered. It felt like we did something; it was government at its finest. When the citizens need help and they need it right now, we were able to do that,” she said.
Davis’ last day on the job was March 31, but she won’t be stepping away into unfamiliar territory as she leaves the department.
Her latest project, Lila’s Kitchen (887 East Park Ave.) is a commercial kitchen space that allows for vendors, caterers and other clients to use the kitchen space to prepare their goods.
In saying goodbye to the community services officer, Port Townsend Police Chief Troy Surber said Davis’ departure would “leave a large hole in the department, specifically in city events, parking enforcement, larger criminal cases and animal control.”
“We will also miss her for her team building; Wendy made holidays and other events into an extended family gathering,” Surber added.
“I have appreciated the goodwill that Wendy has brought to the department and the city as a whole. Wendy knew how to bridge the gap within our community by presenting our department as a department that cares,” he said. “Through her actions and words she proved that we do more than law enforcement, we are a multi-faceted department and we work with our community to make it a better place to live.”