Mason Alum Steps into New Role as No. 1

Posted: October 26, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By David Driver

David Baker
David P. Baker
Courtesy Alexandria Police

For almost two decades, David P. Baker looked out for No. 1. And that person at the top was his boss, former Alexandria (Va.) Police Chief Charles Samarra.

Now Baker, a Mason graduate, is the head man. After 16 years as second-in-command, Baker became the new Alexandria Police chief in September when Samarra retired.

“It is a little busier than I thought. You have to be seen by a lot of people,” says Baker, who tries to meet with two or three City of Alexandria clubs or organizations per week.

In his role as Samarra’s top assistant, Baker could pass along important decisions to his boss. Not anymore.

“Now, I can’t hold that (decision) for the chief. The buck stops here,” says Baker, who received a Bachelor of Individualized Study in leadership and criminal justice management in 2000, and a graduate certificate in administration of justice in 2004. While at Mason, Baker was also awarded the John M. Smith Award for Academic Excellence.

Alexandria is a city of about 133,000 residents. When he was sworn in Sept. 14, Baker had a staff of 484 employees, with 324 sworn officers, and a budget of $49 million.

“One of the challenges I have is to take what is a very special program in terms of crime reduction, outreach to the community and techniques, and figure out how to improve all of those,” he says.

In his new role as chief, Baker says that in every decision that he makes, he tries to do so with the officer on the street in mind. He is also concerned that the department meets the goals of its core mission and looks for ways for the department to move forward. Finally, he wants the department to reach out to the community and make the quality of life better in Alexandria.

To do the latter, Baker wants to get out and meet with as many of the 50 to 60 clubs and groups in Alexandria as he can.

He also attends various functions, some of which can be gut-wrenching. For example, he spoke Oct. 19 at an event to help end domestic violence. Those on hand included family members of several women who were killed by husbands, boyfriends or ex-boyfriends in the past 10 years.

Baker is “very visible in the community. He is sincere and energized about what he does,” says City Manager James K. Hartmann. “He certainly deals with problems effectively.”

Baker grew up in Prince George’s County, Md., and graduated from Potomac High School. He earned an associate degree in applied science in administration of criminal justice from Northern Virginia Community College in 1997.

He began his career as a beat patrol officer in the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department in 1970 and served with the department for 21 years. Samarra picked him to be second-in-command in Alexandria in 1991.

A long-time Fairfax County resident, Baker now lives in Gaithersburg, Md., with his new wife, Melissa, whose two children attend school in Montgomery County.

In his spare time, Baker enjoys collecting sports memorabilia. In his office he has a large photograph of Baseball Hall of Famer Babe Ruth, and boxing gloves worn by former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.

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