Dr. Jacqueline Bailey-Davis makes history as Norristown Police’s first woman leader

The Norristown Police Department has a new chief in town who has made her-story!

Dr. Jacqueline Bailey-Davis is not only Norristown’s newest police chief, but she is also the first woman to lead the department.  

FOX 29’s Shaynah Ferreira sat down with the new chief to discuss her journey. 

"I come from humble beginnings, I’m from Philadelphia, by way of South Philadelphia," said Chief Dr. Jacqueline Bailey-Davis, Norristown Police Department."I lived in the city’s largest, poorest, most isolated and arguably one of the most dangerous housing projects as it were… My family has a strong foundation on faith and that has helped me to persevere."

She attended Leeds Middle School and Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Philadelphia and despite never thinking college was in the deck of cards for her, she eventually found herself as a student at the University of Cincinnati majoring in criminal justice.

One class in particular changed the trajectory of her life.

"I took a class called The Law and Black People," she said. "It was there where my professor talked about the history of policing which is not all so beautiful, and he talked about the maltreatment and the malfeasance of persons of color and how they were treated by police."

She continued, "he proceeded to talk about how there was one city and one police department that was the most corrupt city department and everyone’s thinking Los Angeles, Chicago? New York? And he says no Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I kind of swelled up a little bit, I said what? He said well no one is here from Philadelphia" and I said I’m from Philadelphia, and he says well sister, what are you gonna do about it? So I said I’m gonna go home, and join the department," said the chief. 

And she did just that! She came home and joined the Philadelphia Police Department in 1997, beginning as an officer in the northwest division,  making sergeant, patrol sergeant, rising to lieutenant with internal affairs,  promoted to captain and eventually staff inspector. She served 26 years with the department.

"My ultimate goal was to be the police commissioner in Philadelphia but God said to me 'I'll allow you to be a commander in chief but I have to change your venue and I was okay with that," Said Bailey-Davis.

The West Chester and Lincoln University alumna was sworn in as Norristown’s Police Chief on January 2.

"January 3rd I hit the ground running. I worked with my staff to assess the department operations to determine what was being done well and what can be done better and what can be improved upon and we’re making tremendous strides," she said. 

Strides that she says matters especially as the first woman to hold the position.

"You’re speaking of a municipality that has been in existence since 1812…so I’m the first person since 1812? While it’s humbling and I’m proud to be here it’s a little disheartening but if I’m here and we’re beginning to turn the tide. I wanna make sure that individuals in the community are represented."

She explained the kind of leader she prides herself on being. 

"If I’m coming to your event, I'm coming to your event I'm not just doing a photo op and running out the door. For me I just believe that in order to have the authentic and intentional engagement with folks that people need to know it’s substantive." she said.

"My vision here in Norristown is quite simple. It’s to make Norristown the safest place to work, live and visit." said Chief Bailey-Davis. "There has to be Representation of individuals, so I need to hear everyone’s voice in Norristown regardless of your race, your gender, sexual orientation , creed, religion. I need to hear everyone’s voice. They need to understand they’re being heard."

Leaning into her faith, Chief Dr. Bailey-Davis is up for the challenge of the job, to serve with excellence.