Six years ago. It was a perfect day. A sunny 72° with a light breeze. Paul Davidson and his daughter Christine were at the mall, shopping for a dress for the Snowflake Dance. The last dance of middle school.
“I’d accidentally left my wallet in the car,” Davidson, then 46, said. “I asked Christine to get it for me.”
That was the last time Paul Davidson saw his daughter.
Police say it may have started as a robbery. There were signs of a struggle. Davidson’s car door was left open, and his keys were laying on the ground. Davidson’s wallet was gone. But there was some blood on the top of the car. An analysis of the blood showed that it was Christine’s.
There were passersby just 100 feet from where Christine was abducted, but no one saw or heard a thing. Christine Davidson’s whereabouts are still unknown.
But Paul Davidson has focused his life on making sure that his nightmare doesn’t become anyone else’s reality, by creating the Safe Personal Alarm.
Davidson began work on the device a few years after his daughter went missing.
“The number-one reason that leads to successful kidnappings is the victim isn’t or cannot make noise,” Davidson, now 52, says. “The kidnapper tries to keep the victim’s mouth shut.”
So Davidson had two main focuses when developing Safe Personal Alarm: To make it as accessible as possible and as loud as possible.
“The ability to easily make noise is crucial in a kidnapping situation,” police say.
The device easily attaches to purses, keys, and backpacks. It’s also small enough to fit in your pocket. But it packs a wallop.
A single device is capable of creating a 125db to attract attention and scare away potential assailants. To compare, it’s the same volume as a military jet during takeoff.
It’s also simple to use. Rather than having a button that could easily be pressed by accident, the Safety device has a pin. Once pulled, the device emits an ear-piercing sound for up to 30 continuous minutes, or until the pin is re-inserted. It can be reused over and over.
Davidson is hoping for more than just a kidnapping deterrent. He wants to help stop all kinds of crimes.
“It can be used for so many different things,” Davidson says. “Parents can give it to their kids as an extra layer of protection. Teenagers can use it so they can feel safe walking home. Women can know it’s there when they have to use the parking garage at night. I’ve given it to all the women in my life, including my 78 year old mother. I like knowing that she can use it to sound for help if she falls or feels threatened. I just wish I had come up with this years ago.”
His voice trails off. It’s clear that his daughter remains heavy on his mind.
Then he wipes his eyes, offers a firm handshake, and is off. Paul Davidson has a Women’s Against Violence meeting to attend. He’s the guest of honor.
People have come from around the country to see him. Every single one of them was helped by the Safety device in one way or another.
"It saved my daughter’s life," one grateful mother says. "I don’t know what would have happened if she didn’t have it with her."
Paul Davidson knows that what happened to Christine was not for nothing. He can see it in the face of everyone he’s helped.
Police note that violent crime has risen in 2018, particularly in the last month.
But it’s not all bad news. Police are also noticing a trend when the Safe Personal Alarm is used.
“The loud noise disorients the criminal,” police say. “It throws a wrench in their plans, and they retreat.”
They’re noticing that the victims are usually unharmed.