Alexander Makes Pensacola Police History As Chief Simmons Retires

Jul 14, 2015

David Alexander (L) and Chip Simmons (R)
Credit Pensacola Police Department

When it meets in regular session Thursday evening, the Pensacola City Council is expected to approve the promotion of David Alexander to Chief of Police.

Chip Simmons is retiring next month after 29 years in the department, the last five as Chief. In that post, he’s overseen significant reductions in crime year-over-year, and the lowest crime rate on record. The PPD also became the first in the Panhandle to equip officers with body cameras: ten of them to start.

“The thought is that, whenever they respond to a call for service, they will turn the camera on before they get out of the car,” said Simmons last February. “That way, they have a better chance of capturing everything that we feel like we need.”

The City Council’s expected confirmation of David Alexander would also make history, as the first African-American in the department’s 194-year history to hold the top job. A 32-year veteran who has served as Assistant Chief since last September, Alexander for now is downplaying the historical part.

“I’m more focused right now on the various challenges that could possibly be upcoming, as well as the present challenges and make sure that we maintain what we have,” said Alexander. “But I’m quite sure, sooner or later, it’ll hit me.”

Alexander, who holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in human resources management, both from Troy State University, concedes that he’s filling some big shoes left behind by Chief Simmons.

“We’ve begun to establish an open line of communication across the board with our community,” said Alexander. “He has demonstrated a higher level of responsiveness, in terms of the needs of the community as a whole.”

Capt. Tommi Lyter , who joined the department in 1990, is being promoted to assistant chief.

As for Chip Simmons, he’s taking the newly-created position of Assistant Escambia County Administrator. His areas of oversight will be public safety and corrections, along with facilities management and building services, including construction of the new county jail.