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State trooper wins national honor for work breaking skimming case

trooper davis
Photo courtesy Virginia State Police.

A Virginia state trooper has been honored for his actions on what started as a routine traffic stop.

Trooper Jonathan R. Davis initiated the stop on April 23, 2020 along the southbound lanes of Interstate 85 near South Hill. The purpose for the traffic stop was initially for a speeding violation of 84 mph in a posted 70 mph zone.

Upon his approach of the vehicle, Davis observed a homemade, paper license plate taped to the upper left hand corner of the rear window. The license plate information and title the driver presented to him did not match nor were valid, which led Davis to further investigate.

A subsequent search of the vehicle yielded the discovery of a large bag containing a credit card skimmer, 14 debit/gift cards, and $140,000 in US currency. Davis contacted the United States Department of Homeland Security to determine if the agency had any intel or interest in these two individuals. An agent was dispatched to respond to the scene. The DHS agent ran all the cards through a mobile scanning device and determined that seven of the cards had been rewritten with stolen credit card identifications.

Davis also contacted the VSP High-Tech Crimes Division for analysis of cell phones and other electronics seized from the vehicle to bolster his case and assist the federal agents with their investigation.

Davis pursued state charges while a grand jury indicted both individuals on more than six felony charges.

For this work, Davis is the recipient of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) 2021 Leadership in Looking Beyond the License Plate Award.

Davis, who is assigned to the Area 22 Office in the VSP Appomattox Division, was recently presented his award by Colonel Gary T. Settle at the VSP Superintendent Awards Ceremony in Chesterfield County.

“The Virginia State Police is extremely proud of Trooper Davis for being the only law enforcement officer in the nation to be selected for this esteemed recognition,” Settle said. “Trooper Davis’s extraordinary efforts not only disrupted a major credit card theft operation, but also prevented countless, innocent people from being victimized by these suspects. Virginia, and especially Mecklenburg and Lunenburg counties, are fortunate to have Trooper Davis on patrol and protecting their communities.”

The IACP Leadership in Looking Beyond the License Plate Award recognizes the dedication and initiative of individual police officers whose daily efforts during traffic stops play a large part in preventing additional, more severe crimes. This award is designed to substantiate and document the importance of license plates as law enforcement tools and recognize officers who use license plates to prevent and detect both civil traffic violations and further criminal conduct.

Davis, 32, joined the Virginia State Police in July 2018 as a member of the 129th Basic Session Academy Class. He has been assigned to Area 22, which encompasses South Hill and the counties of Mecklenburg and Lunenburg, since graduating from the academy.