Below is the full text of the remarks delivered by Chief of Police David Alexander III at his installation ceremony on August 5, 2015:
During my interview to become a cadet, I was asked what I saw myself being in five years. I said, ‘Lieutenant, captain, maybe even Chief of Police.’ They looked at me like maybe I was crazy. I always had high ambitions and set high goals for myself. My sincerest thanks goes to everyone from that interview to today who have made this possible.
Mayor Hayward, City Council members, and community members: Thank you for the confidence you have expressed in me. I’m encouraged by all the support I have received, and I will not let you down. This year has already been historic, and it’s not over.
We continue to hear various proclamations promising the delivery of change. My friends, change is here. The question we have is how will we respond to change?
Problems in society change in degree and in magnitude. Problems in the city of Pensacola change in scope and seriousness. Among my responsibilities as Chief of Police are to anticipate, respond to and mitigate negative aspects of change while positive change is being encouraged and facilitated.
Although the challenges we must confront change, our fundamental responsibilities never change. So, the basic mission of police is to prevent crime and disorder while reducing the levels of fear in the community.
My basic goals for the Pensacola Police Department are simple: I expect it to be organized and focused on accomplishing that basic mission. We shall reduce the levels of fear, crime and disorder in the City of Pensacola. Our successes will not be measured by the number of arrests, the number of citations nor response times to non-emergency calls. Rather, our successes will be measured by reduction of fear, crime and disorder.
We will continue to embrace a community-based, problem-oriented, data-driven policing strategy. A strategy that emphasizes procedural justice with fair and impartial policing.
Citizens can expect integrity, geographic accountability, the use of problem-solving techniques, and a reliance on data to identify threats, measure the results of our interventions and to hold ourselves accountable to each other and to our community.
It is often said that the Patrol Division is the backbone of the police department. But yet too often patrol officers are treated as expendable resource made up of call-takers and report-takers while what is referred to as ”real police work” is done by specialized units.
That, my friends, has to change. And it will.
Every member of this department, every unit in this department will be judged based upon their contributions to our core mission. We will focus on neighborhoods because they are where unique needs and priorities must be handled.
Our patrol commanders and their officers will be in close touch with neighborhood needs. The rest of our department must and will support those critical efforts.
To the command staff and supervisors of the Pensacola Police Department: I commit myself to empowering you and developing your potential as leaders. I believe responsibility must be accompanied by sufficient authority to accomplish our mission. I believe in the principles of delegation and accountability. I promote an environment in which responsible risk-taking on behalf of the public good is encouraged and supported.
I firmly believe our police department does not exist to avoid mistakes; but rather it exists to accomplish what is important. And that is to serve and to protect the public.
What I expect in return is your focus on the mission and on the needs of those for whom you are responsible.
You are responsible for the safety of this community. Supervisors are also responsible for the performance of your officers and for meeting their legitimate needs. Your officers need to know how they are doing. They need to know that deliberate incompetence will not be ignored, good work will be recognized, and that honest mistakes will be dealt with differently from misconduct. Officers need to know you care about them, and that you will do all you can to help them be successful in accomplishing our mission.
I also expect your best advice and your advice to be about the future of this department and the City of Pensacola, and not about your career.
I have very little patience with office politics, rival factions, and cliques. Your first and only loyalty must be to this city.
To the officers of the Pensacola Police department, I commit myself to do all I can to see that you all are properly trained, equipped, supervised, and supported.
I believe in you.
I believe you became a police officer because you wanted to make a difference in the lives of people and in our city. I pledge to foster a healthy work environment for you. I realize that police work is hard and that it can be emotionally debilitating. I am familiar with the frustrations of the work and the risk of demoralizing cynicism.
I am also aware our work has meaning. The greatest antidote to cynicism is a sense of accomplishment, accompanied by community support and acceptance by the public. Officers are closer to our core mission than anyone else in the department.
If we can draw from your energy, commitment and ideas, we will accomplish great things.
I pledge to create an environment where you will feel like your life matters. Because it does. Who you are and what you do makes a difference. Your lives count.
In return, I expect from you integrity, courage, competence, commitment, compassion, restraint, and respect – for your department, for yourself, for each other, and for your community. I expect you to be leaders. You are just as responsible for the morale and the reputation of this department as I am.
You are the custodians of the honor of policing. I not only expect you to refrain from misconduct, but I also expect you to prevent it.
Every act of misconduct undermines respect for everyone who wears a badge and for the rule of law.
To the civilian employees: I pledge to create a safe environment that will allow you to deliver an exceptional level of customer service that fosters procedural justice with mutual respect. Displayed procedures and guidelines will add clarity to how services and information can be accessed by the public, by the officers and by other agencies.
In return, I expect you to always be at your best, realizing that the initial impression made by you may be the only impression a citizen may have of our entire department. I expect you to be courteous, responsive and professional.
To the community: I promise an open, accountable, accessible police department responsive to your concerns.
It is my desire that someday consenting support for the Pensacola Police will be uniformly strong across every neighborhood and from every sector of society.
I hope that someday citizens will be willing to suspend judgment when there is a critical incident until all of the facts are in. But I recognize we are not yet there. This police department and Pensacola residents have a history, and that history has not always been a positive one. We will work to learn from history and not be held hostage to it. We will work to earn your trust.
Reducing crime, fear and disorder while treating you with dignity and respect will be our down payment on earning that trust. What I expect in return is for every neighborhood to understand that public safety is not a spectator sport. Safe neighborhoods are the result of people and police working together.
My officers will use every tool at our disposal to create safe places. But you must also do your part. We can control crime, but we cannot control your child. We can take down criminals, but we cannot raise your child in the way that they should go – nor should we. Too many homicides are termed tragic when, in fact, they are the results of bad choices and disengaged parenting.
We often have heard, “it takes a village to raise a child.” In 2015, some of our villages are failing. I believe an effective police department can help raise the villages, but only those in those villages can raise the children. To all of you who try every day to raise your own child or the children of others in your care, we will do all we can to make our streets safe for them.
I have found myself in a new political environment. It will take time for me to understand it and learn to navigate it.
I suspect there will be times where we will have disagreements about means but not the ends. I will be an advocate for the needs of the department while also endeavoring to meet the needs of the community. I expect in return your support for our efforts and a true partnership with us as we work together to overcome challenges. I look forward to a close and productive relationship with city, county, state, and federal officials plus law enforcement officials with other agencies. I have been impressed with our abilities to work together through difficult times in the past, and I look forward to continuing and enhancing those efforts.
Thank you, and God bless you all.