Minneapolis Community Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander says he doesn’t have the public support he needs to do his job. In an interview with the Star Tribune on July 1, Alexander said he needs people to “stop criticizing what we do, and sit down and listen to me.”
The admission comes after two damning investigations from the Federal Department of Justice and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights demanding Minneapolis make drastic steps to address discrimination and racism within the police department.
Alexander’s statements elicited outrage and disbelief from some Minneapolis residents, including Minneapolis Councilmember Robin Wonsley. She wrote on Twitter that “in 2021, Frey opposed Question 2, claiming that we didn’t have a plan for public safety in Minneapolis,” but that despite the Office of Community Safety operating for a year with a stated goal of transforming public safety in the city, it still does not have a plan to do so.
Question 2 was a ballot measure that was brought forward in 2021 that, if passed, would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety.
Alexander is the city's highest paid employee, making an annual salary of $334,000. That is more than either Mayor Frey or Governor Walz makes per year.
The Mayor responded to Wonsley’s claims with a written statement, stating “I don’t believe your concerns are warranted concerning OCS’s commitment to transforming Minneapolis’s community safety systems, and more specifically, Commissioner Alexander’s approach.”
The president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, Michelle Gross, said the city's investment into Alexander’s position has not paid off.
“A lot of people in this town, myself included, see this position that Cedric Alexander is in as being a buffer between the community and Mayor Frey, who a lot of people are quite upset with,” Gross said. “This guy will say anything to anybody… tweets telling people to shut up. He’s not willing to hear the community.”
In 2022, Mayor Frey requested a $1 million budget for the Office of Community Safety, including $207,331 to hire a chief of staff. The Office oversees the police and fire departments, the Office of Violence Prevention, and emergency management. Last Wednesday, the City Council narrowly voted to hire an outreach director for the OCS. That position will pay $97,000 to $115,000.
“[Alexander] doesn’t need any more resources, he’s already got five or six people working for him, the problem is they’re all media and PR people,” Gross said. “It’s a whole PR office.”
Alexander was notably absent from all community meetings over the Ward 3 precinct, and the press conference the city held with the Federal Department of Justice.