NOTE: This is the fourth in a series profiling officers with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Office of Public Safety.
When Officer Justin Davison completes his Dec. 13 training at Camp Robinson, he will be the first university police officer in the state to serve as a member of the Honor Guard for the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police.
The statewide nonprofit organization asks members of the AACP Honor Guard to travel across the state to the funerals of law enforcement officers to perform military honors.
It’s a good fit for Davison, who served more than six years in the Arkansas National Guard as a military police officer and later, in public affairs. He received his honorable discharge from the guard this past September.
Davison scored high enough on his military entrance exam to do a number of different jobs. But Davison, at the time a naive 19-year-old, inquired about any assignment that would bring a significant sign-on bonus.
It resulted in landing an assignment to train as a military police officer, which completely altered the trajectory of Davison’s life.
“I fell in love with it,” Davison said. “The ideals the training instilled in me made me fall in love with that job.”
Davison completed all of his basic and military training with the U.S. Army at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He said he was drawn to his assignment during his time there after realizing the benefits of what law enforcement is able to provide for others.
“We (law enforcement officers) get a bad rap, sometimes, because there are those who misuse their position as an opportunity to show how powerful they are,” he said.
“That’s not what I saw during my training. I saw the ability to help protect people and the opportunity to remove elements from the community that I serve. When I made that connection at Fort Leonard Wood, I decided this was what I wanted to do with my life.”
Persistence is something else Davison may have also learned while in the military. After enrolling at UALR, UALR Detective Sharon Houlette, whom he had known since his youth, helped him get involved in student patrol. Davison eventually worked in an on-campus security position for two years.
As soon as he turned 21, he applied for a position as a UALR police officer (a person cannot serve in law enforcement in Arkansas until that age), and he was able to begin the position in 2010.
“When you find something you want to do, then you don’t give up,” he said. “Since then I’ve been here and loving every minute of it.”
Today, Davison is a member of the newly re-established bike patrol and can frequently be seen traversing campus on his 10-speed. He said he wanted to join the bike patrol because of the close interaction with students it provides.
“It’s also a great way to stay in shape,” he said, smiling.
Davison is now stationed full time at the new substation in Stabler Hall, where he said getting across campus can be done in a matter of minutes.
“I like being here in the center of campus,” he said. “Again, partly because it helps us to respond to calls quickly and effectively. But it really does help with increasing our image of being even more accessible to students. It’s important they know we are here to serve them.”