Atlanta In Focus: Dekalb Police Chief Cedric Alexander
Atlanta (WAOK) — Hired in April of 2013, Dekalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander arrived amidst scandal and ethical violation within his department. The agency has a storied history of misconduct and the hiring of Alexander was prompted due to this. A former TSA Federal Director in Dallas and police chief in Rochester, New York, Alexander has acknowledged that although he has his work cut out for him, he is up to the challenge and wants to turn the Dekalb County Police “into a great police department”. He asserts that for him to do that he must develop “help from the community…and relationships and alliances that are trustworthy of each other.”
Mistrust within the Dekalb County community of the police department has built over the years due to the arrogance of the department. This arrogance has resulted in not only moral and ethical violations, but also criminal activity. Alexander feels that Dekalb County officers have been guided by “failed leadership throughout the department” which has caused them to believe that they have the right to act unprofessionally, and because of this the chief has began an all-out disbandment of the officers that do want to comply with his philosophy of leading by example, which will enable the department “to create and sustain an air of trust within the community, because there is nothing worse than being able to not trust this police department.” This philosophy has helped Chief Alexander to weed out the bad seeds from a department that he claims “99.9% of the men and women…have a great deal of integrity and character. A small fraction of people have created this perception of our police department. It has not been the many.”
A Doctor in Clinical Psychology, His academic background has afforded him the “unique insight” to be able to assess and recognize issues within the department. This skill has resulted in the resignation or termination of at least 10 officers. “What we want to do is get ahead of these ethical and criminal violations before they even start” Chief Alexander said “these type of acts will get you terminated and if need be, will get you prosecuted.” In August, resigned officer Brandon D. Brown admitted to taking money while in uniform from a customer to look away, while the customer smoked marijuana in a hookah bar. The internal investigation found him guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and failing to comply with orders for working an unauthorized part-time off-duty job. In September, former officer William Miguel was arrested by federal agents on allegations that he was aiding a drug organization. He was subsequently terminated.
“We must elevate our level of professionalism to create an integrity that we feel good about, and to enhance the character of each and every one of our officers” Chief Alexander spoke when asked how he plans to change the morale of his department. “In spite of the challenges that we have, we are going to continue to push forward…I am very confident that we are going defeat and overcome the challenges of the past”.
The end goal is to provide a safe community where people can live and work in. When the police are doing their jobs exactly the way that they are supposed to, they are serving the community and providing the best public safety to the community. “Providing a plan in which we are going to function” has been the main goal and operating at a “very high standard and we are going to go beyond the norm” will enable Dekalb County PD to be a great police department. Alexander iterated that in order for the department to do that he must have help from the community, and he believes that by continuing on the trajectory that he has placed the department on will provide them the opportunity to be as successful as they can be. “This is more than arresting bad guys. Police work also is about working with people in the community…where the police and community work very close together.”
Written by: Sherman H. Smith Jr (WAOK/Intern)