Caswell native retires after 37 years in public service

James Davis or Jimmy to those who know him is a Caswell County native who was born and raised in Yanceyville.

Growing up he was a typical kid playing sports and working until he graduated from Bartlett Yancey High School in 1979.

He worked at Western Auto in his early teens and went on to work at a drugstore, a grocery store and he even worked as a part-time sports photographer for the Caswell Messenger.

A few short years later, he applied for a position as a dispatcher for the Danville Fire Department that would change his life forever.

“I had a lot of interest in that because of my father’s volunteer background with the fire department here in Yanceyville,” he said. “I rode in the back of the ambulance, I worked as an EMT and growing up in the type of family that did Public Service like my father I was following in his footsteps. So, I applied for that job with the Danville Fire Department and was one of the lucky ones to have an interview and started my career there in January 1981.”

Davis said after almost a year with the fire department he transferred over to Law Enforcement. It was there where he was given the opportunity to help establish the 911 Communications Center.

“Danville did not have a 911 and the fire department had their own dispatch and the police department had their own dispatch and the City Manager wanted to consolidate those services in order to put sworn officers back on the streets,” he explained. “I went into the Communication Center of the Police department and we cross-trained each other how to do the job and it just continued to draw my interest for public safety.”

After working with the fire department and helping establish 911 systems Davis took a job in law enforcement.

He was promoted to lieutenant while working as a police officer and during his tenure he spent time investing his efforts to make sure emergency communications were up to par and functioning.

“In 1995, Pittsylvania County was trying to put together a 911 system and they had been unsuccessful because the lacked the personnel to help coordinate the project,” Davis said. “They posted an advertisement and after thinking about it I applied for the position, interviewed and was hired as the County’s Communication Manager.”

“We put together a team of vendors and people to work on the components of the system, building design, architects and getting in a situation where we could get everyone together to where we’d have our plan for hiring dispatchers, the training, putting them through the academy, buying the equipment and to [constructing] the building, Davis continued. “It was almost two complete years and we had turned the system on in 1997.”

Throughout the years, he wore many hats and was given many different titles, but the one that stuck was Public Safety Director and after 37 years of working for the Commonwealth of Virginia as he finally decided it was time to hang up his hat.

Retirement didn’t stop Davis, he currently works for Mission Critical Partners as a consultant.

“Knowing that I didn’t want to just retire and do nothing I wanted to find something were I could hopefully stay engaged in public safety work,” he said. “Being a consultant for this firm, we work with 911 centers across the United States.”

When he’s not traveling around the country Davis can be found pastoring at the Yanceyville Presbyterian Church.

“I was ordained in 2012, in the Evangelical Methodist Church and I’m enjoying that,” he said. “I like to be still connected here in the community.”

He also said although he is retired he’s still young and has places to see and people to meet.

“I feel that I have at least 10 more years within me to do something I enjoy doing, rather it be this consulting job or working the ministry I feel like service is it and that’s me. I love to serve,” he said.

Davis currently lives in Danville with his wife of 30 years and together they have two adult children.