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Kenmore officer who died young remembered as 'a good guy'

Kenmore Police Officer Joshua B. Davidson

Kenmore Police Officer Joshua B. Davidson

Kenmore Police Officer Joshua B. Davidson walked the beat for the last 3½ years, enforcing the law but also embodying the friendly side of community policing in the village.

He was known to stop at children's homemade lemonade stands in the summer.

"Josh would always stop by when he was on duty and talk to them, buy lemonade and give them coloring books," said his friend, Shannon Cody. "He did so much for so many people."

Davidson's watch ended Nov. 12 when he died unexpectedly of natural causes in McAllen, Texas where he was visiting a brother. He was 31.

He is survived by his mother, Bonnie; father, Jon; and two brothers, Ross and Scott.

A funeral procession Thursday from the Kenmore Police Department on Elmwood Avenue to the Amherst Memorial Chapel on Dodge Road included presentation of the U.S. flag between Kenmore and Getzville Fire Department ladder trucks. Police agencies from across Western New York were represented in the procession.

Davidson was remembered this week as an "outstanding" cop with a wide smile by his chief, Peter J. Breitnauer.

"He was great with the public, with the residents, with the merchants," he said. "He treated people fairly. He was a good guy. He always did his job with a smile on his face."

Those merchants included Cody, owner of Michael's Floral Design, who became friends with Davidson when he stopped in to buy flowers one day several years ago. They grew especially close over the last year, with Davidson stopping by her Delaware Avenue shop almost every day while on patrol, sometimes bringing her cookies.

"He was always happy," she said. "He was never in a bad mood. Always had a smile on his face, always laughing. He was just a great person."

Davidson grew up on Long Island and graduated from Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School. He moved to Western New York to attend Buffalo State College.

"He liked the area and he stayed," Breitnauer said.

He was hired in the Police Department in July 2009 as a part-time dispatcher, but soon wanted to join the ranks of officers.

"He got what I call the 'blue virus,' and the only remedy for that is becoming a police officer," Breitnauer told a standing room only crowd of mostly fellow police officers Thursday during the memorial service.

Davidson scored a 95 on the civil service exam and realized his "dream job" by joining the force in July 2013, the chief recalled. He graduated from Erie Community College's police academy in December 2013.

Kenmore Police Chief Peter Breitnauer, left, pins a badge on new police officer Joshua B. Davidson on Dec. 20, 2013 at the Erie Community College police academy graduation.

Kenmore Police Chief Peter Breitnauer, left, pins a badge on new police officer Joshua B. Davidson on Dec. 20, 2013 at the Erie Community College police academy graduation. Photo by Derek Gee / Buffalo News.

News photographers were at the commencement ceremony to capture Breitnauer pinning a badge on his son, Justin, who graduated in the same class with Davidson. There was apparently a mix-up, however, because the chief said he heard no camera shutter clicks while pinning the badge on his son.

"Then I moved on to Josh, pinned the badge on Josh and cameras started going and people are running around taking pictures from every angle," the chief told mourners. "Now there's a picture of me and my son, only my son was in the background and it's me and Josh. We laughed hard about that one."

The new officer became a leader in vehicle and traffic enforcement, the chief said. "Josh mildly enjoyed issuing traffic tickets," Breitnauer said.

But he was also a "valuable asset" to the department's community policing program, he said. "He treated people in a fair and impartial manner by treating them the way he would want to be treated if the roles were reversed," he said.

Davidson's untimely death has been hard for the small village Police Department of 25 officers, Breitnauer said.

"A lot of people are in shock," he said. "Nobody knows quite what to say. You don't expect a 31-year-old kid to pass."

Davidson cheered for his hometown New York Giants football team, and helped out with the Kenmore Fire Department's food basket drive for needy families.

Davidson also worked a second job, as security in the Boulevard Mall, and was hoping to achieve a promotion to the rank of lieutenant in the Police Department, Cody said.

"He had a lot of plans, that's for sure," she said. "It's definitely a shame. It's heartbreaking."

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