Former police chief and member of Obama-era task force Cedric Alexander to speak on police reform and systemic racism


In a time that many consider one of great unrest, Cedric Alexander hopes to build trust and community through systemic reform.

Alexander will discuss systemic racism and the need for police reform in the United States with Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill to open Week Two of the Chautauqua Lecture Series, centering on the theme “Forces Unseen: What Shapes Our Daily Lives.” The lecture will be available at 10:45 a.m. EDT Monday, July 6, on CHQ Assembly.

Alexander is the former chief of police in DeKalb County, Georgia, former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and former member of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. He is also the author of In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic, his recently released book on what he calls “the fourth branch” of the government — the sector of government workers throughout the country — which he plans to discuss during his lecture. 

A strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, Alexander considers the current moment an especially important time for police reform. 

“We have an environment where people of color in this country do not feel safe as it relates to the police,” Alexander said. “It is painful for me to hear that.”

He plans to address this issue during his discussion with Hill, and looks forward to the opportunity to start dialogue. 

“We need to listen to citizens when they tell us they feel unsafe,” Alexander said. “It is important that we start to rebuild the trust and legitimacy of the police.”

Alexander has appeared in front of Congress several times to testify on facial recognition technology and crime mapping, among other topics. He has been an outspoken advocate for the creation of a national database of “police officers who have stepped out of bounds,” as well as more intensive police training and accountability. 

In 2014, Obama created the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, to which he appointed Alexander. White House officials said the group’s creation was part of an effort by the Obama administration to strengthen trust between law enforcement and citizens, something Alexander has spent much of his career supporting. 

“The police is the community and the community is the police,” Alexander said. “It is the responsibility of the government on all levels to create legislation and begin reforms to rebuild this community.”

This program is made possible by the June and Albert Bonyor Lectureship Fund.

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The author Maggie Angevine

For her first season with The Chautauquan Daily, reporter Maggie Angevine will be covering the theater, youth programs and recreation at Chautauqua. Maggie, hailing from Virginia, is a rising junior at Miami University in Ohio, studying journalism, political science and French. When she isn’t writing for The Miami Student newspaper, Maggie can be found somewhere outside — hiking, camping, climbing or simply exploring.