DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander is a wanted man.
At least that’s what some Rochester, N.Y., city officials are saying in light of news reports calling him the “first choice” to replace the western New York city’s outgoing top cop.
According to a Thursday report from Rochester’s WHAM-TV, Mayor-elect Lovely Warren dropped Alexander’s name as the best choice for the next chief.
“I would hope that he would be in the mix,” Rochester City Councilwoman Loretta C. Scott told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via phone Friday.
WHAM is reporting that the decision has been made and the new chief will start at the beginning of 2014. But Warren has remained tight-lipped about the choice.
Warren was not available for comment, but Rochester City Councilman Adam McFadden told the television station that Alexander did an excellent job during his tenure there and would be welcomed back.
“If I were mayor,” McFadden told WHAM, “he would be my first choice.”
Alexander, who took over in DeKalb this past April, was Rochester’s chief in 2005.
Scott, who was a fellow department chair heading the city’s parks and human services departments, said Alexander was very well-liked and still has connections in his hometown.
“I was so impressed with his ability to connect with people on all levels,” she said, recalling the chief’s interaction on one occasion with young men in a rough neighborhood. “They respected him and the fact that he would step up.”
Through his spokesman, DeKalb police Capt. Steven Fore, Alexander said on Friday that he was only making one statement about the rumors.
“He is currently the chief of police in DeKalb County … and he continues to carry out his daily duties as chief,” Fore said in an email.
How should inquiring minds read Alexander’s statement?
“That’s good news,” Scott said.
Well, maybe for Rochester.
DeKalb County interim CEO Lee May was unavailable for comment on Friday, but county spokesman Burke Brennan reached out to May and released this statement: “We are aware of the reports from Rochester. Chief Alexander is the DeKalb County Chief of Police, and we continue to support his good work as he carries out the operations of this critical county service.”
If Alexander leaves, it will be the latest in a string of departures and retirements. This year, DeKalb lost its fire chief, finance director, deputy chief operating officer and watershed director.
“The poor DeKalb citizens, the last thing they need is more upheaval,” DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer said. “He has reached out to citizens and the community. We hope he stays.”
Since taking the reins in DeKalb, Alexander has been very visible, often at the scene of major police incidents.
He has been working to turn around the reputation of a department that has seen a number of officers get arrested.
Alexander’s efforts on behalf of officers also garnered support among officers.
Alexander worked with interim CEO Lee May on a proposal to offer raises and other perks to stem the flow of veteran officers out of the DeKalb department.
The county has just 915 officers to fill 1,100 budgeted slots.
Alexander and May have proposed plans to allocate money to hire 160 officers a year for three years, gradually buy take-home cars for officers and reinstate pay raises. The 2014 budget proposal, due later this month, is expected to fund the first year of what will be at least a $15 million commitment.
But it remains unclear whether that will be the full extent of the chief’s legacy.
“I believe he has brought stability to our police department in a time of serious upheaval across the county,” Boyer said. “I hate to think that he would leave right when we’re about to implement those plans.”
Scott told the AJC that she heard the incoming Rochester mayor was considering three candidates — two locals and one from out of state.
“Of course,” she said, “I assumed that person would be Cedric.”