New Minneapolis safety commissioner plans review of community policing measures

As Minneapolis is still in a battle with a surge in violent crime, the new leader of that fight is now in his third week on the job.

Community Safety Commissioner Dr. Cedric Alexander is getting to work on his plan to make Minneapolis a safe community. The first couple of weeks, Dr. Alexander was getting to know the players and how things work. Now in week three, it is down to business, having more focused meetings to effect change. This, knowing there are some big challenges.

"Something I’m going to be very, very clear about," said Dr. Alexander. "We’re going to have public safety in this city and we’re going to have police in this city."

If there’s one takeaway from a conversation with new Community Safety Commissioner Dr. Cedric Alexander, it's that he doesn’t have any interest in anti-police sentiment from the community, from city employees, from some city council members, or media.

"This is not going to be some sort of punching bag, this is going to be an opportunity for public safety to move forward to give the people of this city what they need, professional, courteous, constitutionally driven public safety," said Alexander.

But Alexander also recognizes the need to work on building relationships and trust, recognizing that has to happen to help staffing levels that right fall about 250 short. Alexander says staffing is the biggest challenge right now. But that he just met with a deputy chief to go hard at recruitment.

"We can’t just advertise on social media and think people are going to come out," said Dr. Alexander. "We’re really going to have to take this recruitment game out into the community locally and out into the community nationally because there are police departments going state to state now in their recruiting efforts."

Part of the crime-fighting effort the city has been doing involves various community response and outreach groups, often called "violence interrupters". But there's overlap and questions on if it's really working with a budget of $7.5 million. Alexander wants to see results.

"One thing I’ve asked the acting director, as of this week actually, will be sitting down with me and going through each one of those programs in terms of the service they provide, how they provide it, how long they’ve been providing it and if there’s any data to support the effectiveness of what they’re doing," explained Dr. Alexander.

But even with Alexander’s efforts, the Department of Justice and the city will soon reach a consent decree that will take away a lot of local control over MPD.

"It’s certainly not the position you want to be in but it appears that it will be the position that we will be in so we adapt we adjust and we do what we need to do to make it work for this community," concluded Dr. Alexander.

With the police efforts to stop the crime and make arrests, we also asked about second chances -- especially with the upcoming election for Hennepin County Attorney. He stated very clearly violent criminals should be locked up.