Updated: 5:00 p.m.
After nearly a year on the job, Minneapolis community safety commissioner Cedric Alexander said he is retiring.
A statement Thursday from Mayor Jacob Frey’s office said Alexander informed the office of his decision to leave the job Sept. 1. He was sworn in a year ago August.
Council member Jamal Osman said when he learned Thursday of Alexander’s retirement, he was disappointed. Osman said Alexander had fresh ideas and met with him and the community.
“And he was never someone who was really afraid of political backlash, anything like that. He was a straight talker and that gave me a lot of hope,” the council member said.
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Alexander organized and heads the new office that combines five departments, including Minneapolis police, fire and 911 as well as neighborhood safety. The formation of the department stemmed from pressure placed on the city to reform public safety in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd in 2020.
In the mayor’s statement, Alexander is quoted as saying he is “proud to note the foundation for success has been established.”
In an interview with MPR News, Alexander said he worked to increase community engagement around public safety But he said many of the reforms needed to create a comprehensive system will take more time to develop. He added the U.S. Department of Justice report on Minneapolis police will help guide change.
“[It will] create new partnerships, keep that trust going between our public safety officials and our communities. And that takes work and it takes all of us to do it,” Alexander said. “And I think that's the trajectory we're on and now we have a settlement agreement, we have a consent decree, that's all going to be part of helping us to stay on track.”
He said there is work to be done with the federal agreement, but that the work shouldn’t rely on one person.
“Those things are going to get done, not by one person, they’re going to get done by this entire enterprise. An enterprise in which everyone knows that they have a very significant important role to play in the re-engineering of public safety in this city,” Alexander said.
The mayor credited Alexander with an effort to reduce violent crime under which the city saw a decrease last fall over the same three-month period in 2021.
“I am honored to have worked alongside commissioner Alexander and thank him for his disciplined, inclusive approach to community safety. I’m grateful to call him a friend and will be seeking his guidance well into the future,” Frey said in the statement.
Alexander clashed with council members early on, some of whom opposed his appointment and said his new position amounted to a re-brand of the Minneapolis police.
But Minneapolis Councilmember Michael Rainville praised Alexander for the work he’s done.
“Mission accomplished. I respect all the good work he’s done. And I respect the fact that he probably wants to slip back into retirement,” Rainville said.
Alexander attracted controversy early in his term when he jousted with critics online, but called those Twitter disputes "silly" and said they had no bearing on his decision to retire.
Alexander said he planned to retire to his home in Pensacola, Fla., but said he would always be available if Minneapolis residents need.