Pensacola already has a rich history, but more was made Wednesday with the installation of David Alexander as the city’s new police chief.
An almost standing room only crowd at the Sanders Beach-Corrine Jones Center was there to greet Pensacola’s first African-American police chief, in the department’s 194-year history.
“I chose David as our next chief of police because of the content of his character, and because of his passion for this community, his distinguished record, and his tremendous heart for service,” said Mayor Ashton Hayward.
After taking the oath from Circuit Judge Pat Kinsey and receiving his badge Alcuin, it was time to hear from the man of the hour. Alexander – a 32-year police veteran -- said the basic police mission is to prevent crime and disorder, while reducing the levels of fear. That’s his goal as well.
“Our successes will not be measured by the number of arrests, the number of citations, nor the response time to non-emergency calls,” Alexander said. “We will continue to embrace a community-based, problem-oriented, data-driven policing strategy that emphasizes procedural justice, with fair and impartial policing.”
Every unit and member of the department, said Alexander, will be judged by their contributions to the core mission, with a focus on individual neighborhoods’ unique needs and priorities.
The new Chief said the PPD doesn’t exist to avoid mistakes, but rather to accomplish what’s important – to serve and protect the public. He added the public also has a major stake.
“What I expect in return is for every neighborhood to understand that public safety is not a spectator sport,” said Alexander. “Safe neighborhoods are the result of people and police working together. My officers will use every tool at our disposal to create a safe place. But you must also do your part.”
That “part” begins at home. Alexander told the audience that while police can control crime in a community, they cannot control a community’s children.
“We often hear that it takes a village to raise a child; in 2015, some of our villages are failing,” said the Chief. “I believe an effective police department can help raise the villages. But only those who live in those villages can raise the children.”
In closing, Chief David Alexander conceded that he was entering into a new political environment – which he says will take some time to understand and navigate. He says he expects disagreements about the means, but that the outcome won’t change.
Alexander actually began his new job on August 1st, taking over for Chip Simmons – who spent 29 years with the Pensacola Police Department and had served as chief since 2010.