The following situation has happened to me many times. I will be in a public place, such as the supermarket, and I’ll notice another shopper staring at me.

Eventually, this person will come over and say, “Excuse me, I hate to bother you, but I’m a big fan of your writing on Facebook.”

I’ll smile and say, “You’re not bothering me.”

Then the enthusiastic person will call their husband over. “Honey, come here quick, this is the guy who writes for the Pensacola Police Department’s Facebook page.”

“No,” I’ll say. “You’re thinking of Steve Davis. We’re both redheaded writers from the same part of Florida. I’m Sean Dietrich.”

“Oh, God, I’m so sorry.”

“That’s okay, Steve is a good friend.”

Long pause.

“Well, your writing is really good, too.”

Then this person avoids eye contact and walks away.

The first time I ever met Captain Steve Davis, I was giving a speech at the Rotary Club in Pensacola, years ago. After I had successfully put 32 elderly Rotarians into comas, Steve introduced himself to me.

He was somewhat of a local celebrity, and we were both writers, so we hit it off. Then he asked if I wanted to eat authentic Mexican food with the entire Pensacola Police Department.

Truthfully, I was intimidated to be around so many cops. After all, Pensacola was the biggest city I knew. I am a Walton County kid, to me Pensacola was Manhattan.

Pensacola was where old people from my town traveled for serious medical procedures and elective dental surgeries. Pensacola was where you bought your used cars, did your Christmas shopping, and got your gallbladder pulled. This was the big city.

And here was a captain of the police force asking me to hang out. I was flattered. I ate so much salsa my gastrointestinal tract was never the same.

Over the years, Steve helped me become a small part of the Pensacola family. I am not exaggerating when I say that he made me feel like I belonged to this city. He was sort of like a big brother, always introducing me to new people, and helping me find good stories.

Steve is a sort of unofficial mascot for the City of Five Flags. Everyone knows him. Since the age of 19, he has been patrolling every byway, side street, back alley, Dumpster, chicken house, dog house, outhouse, and Waffle House.

He has checked every door knob on Palafox. He has inspected every donut shop for quality control.

You walk into Publix with Steve Davis and it takes six hours to get through the checkout line because everyone wants to shake his hand.

Steve’s pièce de résistance, however, is his writing on the Pensacola Police Department’s Facebook page. Everyone I know follows the Pensacola Police Department account. Celebrities follow Steve. The hosts of “Good Morning America” follow Steve. If the Pope has a smartphone, he’s a fan, too.

I was once delivering a speech in upstate New York, near the Canadian border, where I met people who were avid followers of the PPD’s page.

Still, above all, Steve is more than just a crack writer. He’s a nice guy. He’s kind and funny, and he’s nothing like the cops you see portrayed on TV who chew gum at funerals.

He’s a good man who has aided his city throughout every devastating hurricane, each tropical storm, natural disaster, act of God, life threatening emergency, turbulent time, and Cox Christmas Parade.

He was among the first to text me when my mother-in-law died. He was the first to call when the Braves won the Fall Classic.

He is a civic Samaritan who has initiated more acts of goodwill than anyone will ever know about. He is a cop’s cop. A dad. A dog lover. A man who has saved lives by laying his own on the line, repeatedly. And as a first responder he has waded through trenches where average men dare not go.

I’m proud to say I have sipped beer on his porch, I’ve sat beside him in the Blue Wahoos ballpark stands. I’ve gone for joyrides in his unmarked car, and he even let me play with his handcuffs.

Anyway, I wish I had something more eloquent to say about this man because today he’s announced that he’s retiring from the force after 34 dutiful years of service. He deserves something better than these few lines. But I’m afraid this will have to do.

Besides, I suppose the best retirement gift I could give any cop is to be a law abiding citizen, to respect my fellow man, and to act like a decent human being.

Which is exactly why you will never see me picking my nose at a traffic light. Because the last thing I would want is for a motorist nearby to see me and say, “You know who I saw picking his nose at a red light? Steve Davis, that’s who.”

Because as I say, Steve is a friend.

30 comments

  1. Christina - December 12, 2021 8:21 am

    Salute to the Winston Browne of Pensacola!!!

    Reply
  2. Phil Evans - December 12, 2021 10:52 am

    Awesome read. Our men in blue are very special people.

    Reply
  3. Heidi - December 12, 2021 12:25 pm

    What an example of a life well lived!!!! People like Steve never really retire. He will just move all his good works elsewhere.
    Congratulations to Steve and thank you for all your years of true service.

    Reply
  4. Joy Jacobs - December 12, 2021 12:30 pm

    What a great tribute to Steve Davis. My brother in law has been a police officer for 30+ years, they definitely need our support. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Ellen Stout - December 12, 2021 1:05 pm

    Each morning after (and often before) my daily office of prayer I read your email to “me”. This one brought to mind Deacon Ralph. He’s a Chaplain for many local fire departments here in southeast Wisconsin and a saint with a penchant for lasagna. Men like your friend Steve and my friend Deacon Ralph will surely have indoor plumbing in Heaven. I hope one of them let’s me use theirs.
    Ellen

    Reply
  6. Sook - December 12, 2021 1:08 pm

    I think Steve would be proud of this tribute to him. Congrats to Steve and a heartfelt thanks for all his years of service!!

    Reply
  7. Cheryl Andrews - December 12, 2021 1:24 pm

    Thanks for this awesome tribute!

    Reply
  8. Bobby - December 12, 2021 1:31 pm

    A very sweet tribute. Although I’ve never met Steve, I met and worked alongside many with similar traits during my 35 years in law enforcement.

    Reply
  9. Kate - December 12, 2021 1:32 pm

    Steve sounds like a wonderful person who has and is doing “good” with his life. We should all be more like Steve. Thank you for the reminder.

    Reply
  10. peggy hayes - December 12, 2021 1:39 pm

    Steve sounds like a good man, and a good writer, too. As an aspiring writer myself, I often find myself saying, “I wish I had written that” when I read your writing.

    Reply
  11. Judy 🌻 - December 12, 2021 1:49 pm

    I believe anyone… everyone…would appreciate the kind words you shared about your friend, Steve. I can tell there is a real affection and respect between the two of you. And that is really special. Thank you, Steve, for your life of service. I believe the mission field may change, but the mission remains the same – to serve others. I see Steve continuing his Life Mission of serving others. Thank you, Sean, for sharing your friend. And you are a really “good writer.”

    Reply
  12. Lynn S. - December 12, 2021 2:11 pm

    Just started following the Pensacola FB page. What a great writer!

    Reply
  13. Melanie - December 12, 2021 3:05 pm

    💙🖤💙🖤Congratulations Officer Davis💙🖤💙🖤

    Reply
  14. Jamie Byers - December 12, 2021 3:30 pm

    Sean, you do not have to worry about embarrassing Steve Davis. I know firsthand that he picks his nose at most traffic lights, and even some stop signs…..if he has time.

    Reply
  15. Rich - December 12, 2021 3:39 pm

    You had me scared for the first part, Sean. I was afraid Steve Davis had passed away. Glad I made it to the end before writing a comment.
    While I do not know Chief Davis, as the former photographer for the Walton Sun I did have the opportunity to meet and get to know many of the Walton County first responders over those years.
    To all first responders (including my firefighter/EMT granddaughter Abby), I am proud to have known you and wish you a very Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  16. Shelton A. - December 12, 2021 4:53 pm

    Nice tribute to a fellow writer, an officer of the law who protects and serves, and a friend. Happy retirement, Capt. Steve! Have more good times and keep on writing. God’s blessings and peace to all.

    Reply
  17. NancyB. - December 12, 2021 5:19 pm

    Thank you for your service , Officer Davis!

    Reply
  18. Ann - December 12, 2021 6:04 pm

    A lovely gift to Steve!🇺🇸💙💙💙🇺🇸

    Reply
  19. Karen - December 12, 2021 6:34 pm

    A beautiful tribute to wonderful man and your friend.

    Reply
  20. Sandra - December 12, 2021 6:54 pm

    Thank you for your service Steve. I don’t know you, but Sean makes you sound like a really good guy. Enjoy your retirement. 👮‍♂️🇺🇸🇺🇸

    Reply
  21. MAM - December 12, 2021 7:56 pm

    Thanks for one that didn’t turn on the eye faucets today. In fact, the last line made a big grin come on my face. And next time you, Sean, talk to Steve, please tell him we appreciate his service. And know he will continue to serve his community in some way. As you, Sean, serve the world with your great stories and wisdom. Thanks!

    Reply
  22. Linda Moon - December 12, 2021 8:28 pm

    Apparently you have a fan or two here in my neck of the woods. One of your books was chosen for our “Insatiable Readers” discussion at the local library. I understand your dilemma…I was mistaken for Linda Ronstadt once, and My Guy was mistaken for President Jimmy Carter more than once. That’s the extent of our “fame”. Being mistaken for Steve Davis seems pretty good to me, Author.

    Reply
  23. Sandi. - December 12, 2021 10:12 pm

    What a heartwarming, wonderful tribute to Steve Davis! Every police department in every city needs an entire force composed of such fine, dedicated, well liked members.

    Reply
  24. Pingback: Sean of the South: Steve | The Trussville Tribune

  25. Bernadette+Wyckoff - December 13, 2021 12:30 am

    Love this ….congratulations on your retirement Steve. You have blessed Pensacola with your service. Sean don’t even think about retirement…we need your honesty and wit in writing. You are also a blessing to us all. Love and blessings to you both ❤

    Reply
  26. Stacey Wallace - December 13, 2021 12:31 am

    God bless Officer Steve! Thank you for your service. Retirement is a beautiful thing.

    Reply
  27. Carol Wheeler - December 13, 2021 9:50 am

    This was a wonderful tribute to your friend and many men like him who are there for us all to help maintain some sanity in our world that sometimes seems to be “turned upside down”. We, too, have that kind of sheriff department here in Franklin County FL., led by Sheriff A J Smith…tough on wrongdoers, but the first to be on hand to join in our celebrations, to help grant the last wishes of a dying child, to find homes for abandoned pets, to stop and help a motorist change a flat tire, to aid two older folks who locked themselves out of their house one chilly night (yes, that one was us) or to celebrate a former inmate’s first steps to recovery and reentry back into a reformed life. May God bless and protect those who bless and protect us.

    Reply
  28. Patricia Gibson - December 13, 2021 4:16 pm

    Give Steve my congratulations ❤️

    Reply
  29. Dawn Ritz - December 13, 2021 8:52 pm

    What a great send off!! You are both great guys and great writers–our city has been lucky to have both of you! PPD social media has indeed been the best because of Steve–always informative AND good for a laugh!! He will be sorely missed!!

    Reply
  30. Becky Wiegers (shocker, right?) - December 17, 2021 9:57 am

    That last paragraph!

    Reply

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