Frustration, concerns as Minneapolis community safety commissioner announces retirement
It was touted as a hire that was going to transform public safety in Minneapolis, and as progress was being made toward that goal, Dr. Cedric Alexander said he’s stepping away from the job.
Not a year into the newly formed Office of Community Safety, its commissioner, Dr. Cedric Alexander, announced he will be retiring on Sept. 1.
“Anytime you make these decisions about retiring, it’s always very difficult,” Dr. Alexander said, adding: “There’s never a perfect time for exiting.”
Alexander was tasked with overseeing multiple departments, including police, fire and 911. Brought on in the summer of 2022, by the time fall arrived Alexander launched his first major initiative “Operation Endeavor.”
The multi-agency effort was put in place to curb violent crime. According to city data, within the first three months of Operation Endeavor, gunshots, including fully automatic rounds, dropped by about 50%.
Part of the initiative included violence interruption work — helping lead that effort was the organization 21 Days of Peace, ran by Reverend Jerry McAfee who worked close with Dr. Alexander over the year.
“We take one or two steps forward, then we get a step back,” Rev. McAfee said about losing the commissioner.
“If I had any degree of surprise, it was he lasted so long,” McAfee said about learning about the retirement. “This city to me, is not really ready for the necessary change that needs to take place.”
“I’m of the opinion that I don’t think he had really much support from the city officials,” he added.
Shortly after announcing his retirement, Dr. Alexander sat down with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Eric Chaloux where he was asked if he felt restricted in his new role.
“No, my hands were not tied. I think what’s uniquely different here is that it wasn’t new to all of us,” Dr. Alexander said.
“[There are those] who had the vision, like the mayor had the vision, and those who it took a while to capture the vision, and those that are still yet to get the vision,” he added. “But, I think it’s all those dynamics that is what creates the opportunity for change, because we all are not going to always see things the same.”
The Minneapolis police union released a statement blaming the city’s “backward ways” for Alexander’s departure.
“Dr. Alexander came to the City of Minneapolis to build the Office of Community Safety and rebuild community trust. Shortly after being hired, he spent time meeting with stakeholders, and he met with the POFM Board. During that meeting Dr. Alexander stated, ‘if one day you wake up and see I quit, it’s because they won’t let me do my job.’ It appears that time has come for him. The backward ways in the City of Minneapolis have yet again run off someone that could have greatly contributed to the restoration of public safety in the City of Minneapolis.”Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis
Alexander’s last day is set for Sept. 1. The city says Frey will outline a transition plan in the coming weeks.
Rev. McAfee feels the city does not have that time.
“[Alexander] was right there at the table, everybody was coming together, and then in the midst of all of this, boom, one of the major pieces of the puzzle is gone. So now you got to start all back over and it is the community that suffers,” McAfee said.