A centennial celebration, and an update on gun violence and police training highlighted Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson’s Monday news conference.
After some preliminary remarks on other matters, the mayor honored Frances Johnson on her 100th birthday, including a chorus of “Happy Birthday” by the assemblage and members of Johnson’s family.
Robinson spoke of Frances’ and her husband’s involvement in Pensacola’s black business community, having operated a paint store for decades.
“We were talking about an exchange for minority business owners, and thank you for your pioneering in that with your paint store,” Robinson told her. “We certainly appreciate that, and thank you very much, and we’re glad to have you today.”
Afterward, the mayor shifted gears to more serious topics, under the umbrella of public safety.
“A rash of things continue to happen with this gun violence, and I will say this much; the city of Pensacola is absolutely committed to solving, and permitting, and providing whatever force we need to,” said Robinson.
Robinson had praise for law enforcement during the MLK parade downtown, after extra intel was sent out and manpower doubled for the event.
“We actually did catch one of the people who tried to show up; we were able to catch and apprehend that individual,” said the mayor. “And my understanding was, also on Gallery Night we apprehended [suspects] – with the help of the federal agencies that we continue to work with. So we’re on top of trying to do the best we can.”
The latest incident was Wednesday night, when two men entered the Dollar General Store at Garden and G Streets, in which the store’s clerk was shot during a demand for money. Her injuries, police say, are non-life-threatening. The men – both African-American – are being sought for questioning.
“We are engaged in this [gun violence] challenge, and we will find a way to rise to it to address it,” said the mayor. “We have a zero tolerance for gun violence here in the city of Pensacola, and whatever it takes – if it’s just one incident – we will be there.”
Anyone having information on the incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 433-STOP. Meanwhile, the extra training of police following the fatal shooting of Tymar Crawford in July – as recommended by a grand jury -- is underway. The mayor says so far, so good.
“We increased training – we more than doubled training,” said Robinson. “And the first time we had a budget in this administration,” Robinson said. “This is the kind of stuff that we’re already doing and we think it will pay dividends as we move forward.”
Overseeing the training is Cedric Alexander, a Pensacola native and 40-year law enforcement veteran who was hired as a consultant to the PPD.
“[We’re] very excited about what he brings; if you’ve met Cedric, you immediately understand that he has done police chief; he came up from a beat cop from over in Leon County,” said the mayor. “So he’s experienced sort of everything within the realm of policing; and he’s well-knowledgeable [and] well-versed.”
Mayor Robinson is hoping that Alexander can help develop ideas for the citizens’ advisory group that’s now in the works. There’s no timeline for Alexander to complete his work with the city. He also represents District-3 on the Emerald Coast Utilities Board.