Cedric Alex, the first commissioner of the Minneapolis Office of Community Safety was sworn into office earlier this month. This is his attempt to transform public safety in a place where nearly half of the citizens voted to replace the police department.
Although Alexander has been praised by the Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and other community members for his ability to bring about positive change, others have raised questions about Alexander’s qualifications, speed at which he was appointed, and the appropriate salary that Alexander is being paid.
Frey had earlier unveiled a plan to restructure Minneapolis’ government. It was part of a plan to create the new Office of Community Safety. This was after Minneapolis voters approved a ballot measure last year to change to a “strong Mayor” system. The mayor now has more administrative power over many city departments, while the city council is limited to legislative duties. Alexander, as Community Safety Commissioner, is part of a four-member cabinet that includes the chief of staff, city attorney, and chief operations officer.
Alexander was part of the initial consulting group that was established by the city to assist in the national search for a new chief police officer. Alexander was then nominated for the position by Frey last month.
Alexander worked for 40 years in law enforcement and public service positions before moving to Minneapolis. He was a deputy chief in Rochester and a member on a task force regarding 21st Century Policing, which was established by former President Barack Obama. Alexander holds a doctorate of clinical psychology and was also a DeKalb, Georgia public safety director, which is a similar job to his current role.
Alexander will be responsible for the management of emergency management, 911 dispatch, police and fire services, and 911 dispatch. Alexander would also oversee all violence prevention efforts under the new umbrella of a neighborhood safety department.
Frey described Alexander’s appointment as a “defining moment in pushing for a transformative change in the way we deliver service to Minneapolis” with regard to public safety.
span style=”font weight: 400 Our communities have called for safety and called for change. He stated that Commissioner Alexander was now responding to the call.
Alexander will have to start by securing staffing for a police force whose ranks have plummeted from 888 officers, its authorized strength, to 560 officers. This is due to resignations, retirements, and disability leaves during the two-year period following George Floyd’s death by Derek Chauvin (then Minneapolis police officer).
Alexander was not available to interview for multiple requests from the city.
Alexander said that the 200-300 officers would not be returning to the University of Minnesota during his career. He was speaking at a forum about improving public safety, held earlier in the month at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Alexander stated that law enforcement agencies across the country, including Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), had struggled to recruit officers in recent years. He stated that the city will need to approach police differently, and replace those losses with new technology such as drones and surveillance cameras, and improve relationships with residents.
Alexander stated that with a lack of officers and community members calling to increase accountability, it is crucial that the police department improves its relationship with the public in order to reduce crime and keep communities safe. He suggested that transparency in the way the police department conducts its policing is one way to achieve this.
span style=”font weight: 400 We won’t see the same numbers of officers as we used to, but communities hold police more accountable than they did in the past. He said that people are asking questions and demanding answers. “We must open up our agencies to the general public to allow them to see what we do inside .”
He said that many people in the city don’t view the department as trustworthy or legitimate, despite its authority. This is due to poor relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. He hopes to overcome this lack of trust by focusing on the needs of his community to help him allocate public safety resources.
Alexander acknowledged that changes will take time and may be difficult to measure. However, he stated that he believes his experience and the desire of the community to improve safety in Minneapolis will make a difference.
span style=”font weight: 400 I didn’t come to Florida 1,200 miles to be complicit. Alexander stated that he didn’t come to Florida to do nothing. “I’m here to meet the challenge, but I need the support of the entire community .”
Questions regarding the role
Communities United Against Police Brutality, a local anti-police violence group, wrote to the city council earlier this month to express concerns about Alexander’s appointment. They also noted that Alexander was appointed to many boards and organizations that could divert his time from his new position. Also, Alexander has been slated to speak at conferences with a company which has sold tasers to MPD.
The group also noted that Alexander reduced staffing in the department of internal affairs when he was in DeKalb County.span>>> and lamented the inability to both create a job description and find qualified candidates for the position, which is more than twice the salary of the mayor.
The letter states that span style=”font weight: 400 There appears to be little progress towards filling this new crucial position.” The letter states that the position is not required to be voted on by the city council because it isn’t outlined in its charter. However, a formal process should have been used to define the requirements and search for qualified candidates span>
Brenda Short is a 2021 candidate for city council and was the only one to testify against Alexander’s appointment at a meeting of the public safety committee earlier this month. Short said Alexander’s $300,000 salary – more than twice the salary of the mayor and now that of any city employee-is too high for a city with millions of workers compensation claims.
Short stated that a candidate who has institutional knowledge of the police and the problems it faces would have been a better choice for the role.
span style=”font weight: 400 The city of Minneapolis does not need to hire a person who is literate to solve its problems. She said that we need someone who has worked in the city to solve the problems with our police department. He could do the job but he had to be part of this city in order to heal this city span>