Becoming a police officer was one of the last careers Ronrico Davis ever expected for himself.
Growing up on the west side, he didn't have the best opinion of police. A few bad actors can sour the experience, Davis explained, especially in the formative years.
It’s not an uncommon feeling among children in Montgomery today, Davis said.
Growing up, Davis had a love for music, particularly hip hop and R&B. After graduating high school, he interned at S.N.A production studio with Michael London, where his passion for music blossomed.
"He put me in the atmosphere, production work, playing music. I just took a liking to it," Davis said. "Music was slow moving during that time so I needed to get a job, but music has been and always will be my passion."
With a son on the way, Davis applied to the police department, the fire department and various other jobs.
"The police department was the first to call me back," he said.
In his nearly 20 years with the department, Davis rose to the rank of lieutenant and is a division commander downtown. He dedicated himself to becoming the opposite of the officers he remembered growing up, the ones who gave him that negative perspective about police.
“I knew I didn’t want to be that,” he said. “I wanted to be more relatable to the community.”
The answer? Music.
“Some people ask how I can be a police officer and work with rappers,” Davis explained. “It’s all about relationship building.”
His career and his passion intersect frequently, and most recently at the crossroads of the two is Montgomery’s youth.
Charles Lee, creator of That’s My Child, met Davis while they recorded a podcast and, seizing an opportunity, asked to bring some of the children he works with to the studio.
“It’s hard to say no to Charles,” Davis laughed. “He brought them one time, but several have been back on their own. They’ve gone from rapping in their closet to a professional setting.”
Mentoring children in music production may not have been something Davis expected, but it’s something he’s grown to love, just like working as a police officer.
“It’s all about building relationships, finding the commonality,” he explained. “When I’m at a scene, I’ll ask them what their favorite music is. It’s a universal language. You can connect with people through music.”
In the studio, Davis makes it known he’s an officer.
“It’s one of the first things I lead with,” he said. “Some kids have to get comfortable with that, and that’s OK. It’s about building that trust, letting them know that every officer is not trying to take them to jail. I come from where they are. I get it. But working in law enforcement also put me in this position, helped me build this and to mentor these kids.”
Since those first few teens were brought to the studio, he’s seen them make great music.
“It’s gratifying. You want to see them be great,” he said. “I get to watch them complete the project they want to complete. They teach me, too. They’re the future and I’m the present, trying to get them there.”
About the series
The Montgomery Advertiser's People to Watch is a series of stories about everyday Alabamians we believe will do exceptional things in our communities in the coming year. Our readers and journalists nominated this year's slate. The Advertiser will publish profiles about these honorees from Dec. 23 through early January.
Three questions with Ron Rico Davis
What is Montgomery’s greatest attribute?
"I think our greatest attribute is the kids. We have great talent here. Great hidden talent in the city of Montgomery and with the support of the people that's there now, we can push them to be seen more."
What did the pandemic teach you about yourself?
"Never stop. You never know what situation you might be in. Always stay ahead, so you can be ahead when something happens, you can be prepared for it...Be able to take care of yourself."
Name somebody in the community who inspires you.
"The community inspires me. Period. You know, watching the new kids, growing up, producing at such a young age, be able to catch on to the work and making great music, and I love that. It's very energetic to see the young kids not on the streets and be in the studio and being creative. That inspires me everyday."
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Kirsten Fiscus at 334-318-1798 or KFiscus@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @KDFiscus
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: How policing and music production intersect for one Montgomery officer