The Pensacola Network, the brainchild of Robin and Lloyd Rashard, celebrated Black History Month on Friday, February 24th, spotlighting the City of Pensacola’s first Black Police Chief, David Alexander. Once again, the Pensacola Network made DeVilliers Square in the Historic Belmont/DeVilliers Business District, ground zero for local business and community networking, in addition to a significant Black History recognition event! Robin Rashard acknowledged the recent death and the role of Papa Rock in the history of Black media in Pensacola’s Black History as an introduction to the interview with Chief Alexander. Stating that, “we give a whole big thank you to those soldiers whose shoulders we stand on that paved the way for us today as we move forward.”
Once the interview began with Chief Alexander, Robin identified him as the first Black Police Chief in 196 years in Pensacola and asked him when did he realize he wanted to go into law enforcement? The chief replied that while he was attending Morehouse College, the police departments of both Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia were recruiting police officers in 1979. He did not quite understand why he took such an interest in the recruitment efforts. He added that he had changed his major about five times before he settled in on Criminal Justice as a major, pointing out that he saw his grades greatly improve when he focused on that area of study. Alexander added that as a child of the 1960’s and 70’s, he watched from a distance the interactions between the police and the Black Community. He said there were these constant film clips and coverage of young Black males getting stopped and beat up by the police. He went on to explain that even in elementary and high school, there were race riots that occurred which helped to influence his eventual decision to focus on law enforcement.
Chief Alexander signed on to the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Program in 2012, which does not allow him to remain as chief when he reaches the maximum four-year participation limit on May 14th. His contract states that he shouldn’t expect any form of employment following that date. Dozens of residents have spoken of the major impact that Alexander has brought to the City of Pensacola. Many have voiced concerns about an inference in his contract that would prohibit him from working beyond May. Many citizens feel that the chief has become a strong positive figure for community policing, and an outstanding go-between residents and the police.
In his interview, Chief Alexander laid out his five year plan for the City of Pensacola’s Police Department. “Change doesn’t come overnight,” he said. It is important that we address the critical issues concerning our department and the community. In my five year plan I identify the critical issues that need to be addressed: Community oriented policies, policing, critical incident preparedness, fair and impartial policing, training and development, succession planning and equipment and technology. To accomplish our 2020 vision goal, the police department must be restructured and community policing implemented department wide. “Six pillars” to improvement policing practices are building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, training and education and officer wellness and safety.”
Chief Alexander went on to elaborate how each critical issue and recommendations could be offered.
Once again, Robin and Lloyd Reshard’s idea of monthly Fourth Friday networking was very successful. This event added yet another level with the interview of a local historical figure to an event which is open to the public, and provides connections linking people to business and job opportunities.
To see the complete report of Chief Alexander’s Five Year Plan go to our website: www.pensacolavoice.com.