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Herculean task lies ahead for Minneapolis's first-ever community safety director

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minneapolis is trying a new approach to control rising crime, and fulfill a promise of change following the murder of George Floyd.

So far this year, the murder rate in Minneapolis is trending slightly lower than last years near record. But assaults are up, as are car thefts and robberies.

On top of that, the Minneapolis Police Department is severely undermanned. There are currently 564 officers, down from the 886 before the pandemic.

Mayor Jacob Frey is shaking up the police department and nominating Dr. Cedric Alexander to be the city's first Director of Community Safety. If approved by the Minneapolis City Council, Alexander would oversee the Minneapolis police and fire departments, the 911 call center and community outreach.

Alexander has an impressive resume. He has been police chief of Rochester, New York, Homeland Security director for the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the public safety director of DeKalb County, Georgia, a member of President Barack Obama's task force on 21th century policing, and he has a doctorate in psychology.

Dr. Cedric Alexander CBS

But with such an understaffed department, can he really make a difference? Dr. Alexander and Mayor Frey were guests on WCCO Sunday Morning

"We have to do things differently, and that's a big reason why I tapped Dr. Cedric Alexander," Frey said.

"What we're going to do under the direction of the mayor is to take our five public safety platforms, integrate them together, and create for this community an opportunity to improve public safety," Alexander said.

If approved, Dr. Alexander would be the city's highest paid official, with a salary of $300,000.

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