County CEO Burrell Ellis told DeKalb Chamber of Commerce members last Wednesday he looked for one main quality when interviewing candidates for the job — leadership.
Police Chief Cedric Alexander said he was drawn to DeKalb County because of its resources, such as education, location and infrastructure.
“It’s a sought-after county,” Alexander said. “It’s a long-standing role model.”
But the new chief noted there are challenges in the area as well, such as crime, ill feelings within the police department and a negative public view of the department.
Forming relationships with the media is Alexander’s top priority in changing the public’s outlook on crime in DeKalb, he said, noting that open communication, transparency and accountability will help.
“My vision for public safety is to reduce crime,” he said. “Everybody wants to feel safe when they walk outside, and we want to deliver the best public service as humanly possible.”
Part of that process is to make sure his officers are respected and are doing the best job they can, as he asked the crowd to thank officers for their work when they see them.
“Support them,” he said. “They put a lot on the line to keep us safe.”
Alexander has an open-door policy for his staff, ensuring their leader is always accessible — adding that morale is gradually improving. With higher morale comes better customer service, including rapid response and good interactions with the public.
“When we go out on a call, it may be the only time that person ever interacts with the DeKalb police,” he said. “When morale is up, those interactions are positive. Every call is an opportunity to rebrand ourselves.”
Other than rebranding, Alexander is interested in adding intelligence-based tactics to gain information. This requires partnerships with other agencies, undercover officers and even gaining information from prisoners. By gaining knowledge from prisons, Alexander expects to better understand the 6 percent of the population that commit 100 percent of the crimes.
“It’s predicting crimes before they take place,” he said. “It’s strength through intelligence.”
Alexander touched on the importance of economic development, telling chamber members he knows businesses want to locate in areas with low crime statistics, where they feel safe.
“We will do everything we can to make that happen,” he said.