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Cedric Alexander tapped for new Minneapolis role: Commissioner of Community Safety

Cedric Alexander tapped for Minneapolis' first commissioner of Community Safety
Cedric Alexander tapped for Minneapolis' first commissioner of Community Safety 02:09

MINNEAPOLIS -- A new leader may soon oversee police and emergency workers in Minneapolis. Mayor Jacob Frey on Thursday introduced his choice for the city's first Commissioner of Community Safety.

Frey's selection is Dr. Cedric Alexander, a former police chief who more recently served on President Barack Obama's task force on 21st century policing. He began his career as a deputy sheriff in Leon County, Florida.

He has also recently wrote a books titled "The New Guardians: Policing in America's Communities for the 21st Century" and "In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic."

"Community safety and law enforcement have been my life's work, and I am grateful that Mayor Frey asked me to step into this role," Alexander said. "I know the path forward will not be easy, but I am committed to making sure Minneapolis residents, businesses, and visitors are safe when they are in this great city. I'm eager to begin building the Office of Community Safety alongside community and Minneapolis first responders to develop a more effective, integrated approach to public safety."

This position is a wholly new job, and part of a plan to re-envision how the city handles crime and crises.

The position integrates five departments -- 911, the city fire department, the emergency management office, the police department, and neighborhood safety, formerly known as the Office of Violence Prevention.

Frey described the change as a "seminal" moment in city history.

The role comes with one of the highest salaries in the state, with a base of $300,000. That's more than either of the mayors of Minneapolis or St. Paul, or the state governor's salary.

"You get what you pay for," Frey said. "This is a person with a wealth of experience that is highly respected nationwide. We are thrilled to have made the kind of changes that we need to see."

Alexander would be responsible for improving oversight and coordination within the Minneapolis Police Department, expanding community safety and violence prevention services and programs, and streamlining existing internal practices related to 911 response.

Policy reform and safety beyond policing would also be under his purview.

Alexander says none of this can be done without public support – both of him and the department.

"The fact of the matter is, we're only as safe in our community as we have good policing, and police can only do a good job for us if they have the support of the community. It's not a one and done. It's all of us together working toward that goal," he said.

With the city's commitment to a multifaceted approach to providing safety for all in Minneapolis a priority, Alexander would have a huge challenge to meet, being that this office never existed before until now.

Minneapolis activists who have long called for reform have mixed emotions about the change.

"I'm always hoping for the best," said KG Wilson. "What I can say, and that I still believe this, is that I've always had a problem with choosing from outside to do an inside job."

"They need someone from the outside," said activist Nekima Levy Armstrong. "(Someone) who understands what's at stake who understands the importance of connecting with the Black community."

"That's good for this guy to come in with the credentials and all that," Wilson said. "That sounds good, that's nice and fine, and sounds good to some people. But trust me, there's community leaders here...who know better."

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