What's changed since Ferguson? An extended discussion with Dr. Cedric Alexander

Analysis: Two years since Ferguson: What has changed?

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- It’s been two years since the officer-involved shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. put the issue of police shootings into spotlight.

Has anything changed?

11Alive’s Matt Pearl talked with DeKalb County Director of Public Safety and a member of the President’s task force on 21st century policing about recent police shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte.

Alexander said not enough people are picking up a report released last year that offered many ways to bridge the gap between police and the communities they serve.

“We’re at a place today where the American people are saying, ‘We don’t trust what police are saying,’” Alexander said. “How do we reengage a community who are constantly seeing these images that appear in their psyche to be totally wrong?”

11Alive’s Matt Pearl: "When I see people reacting to [video of police shooting in Tulsa], they’re not reacting to whether it was legal. They’re reacting to whether it was necessary. Is it time to revisit those conversations?"

Dr. Alexander: "We’re having those conversations. Those conversations are taking place in many departments across this country.

"There are a million different scenarios that police officers find themselves in every da …where split-second decisions can determine whether you live or they live.

"There are a number of departments that, for whatever reason, are not taking this as seriously as they should … And maybe they will, because here’s what’s not going to change: he challenge we’re confronted with, we have to learn how to do things better to build those relationships and that trust."

Matt Pearl: " A common word that is used by people who are frustrated is, ‘Again.’ This has happened again, and there doesn’t seem to be anything that can break the cycle of it. What can you say to those folks who have seen this on a high-profile level for two years and don’t feel like the needle has moved?”

Dr. Alexander: "The reality is they are seeing something that is happening. I’m not going to try to distort what they see.

"All people, what they’re looking at is the image of those shootings, and then you go back a couple of days where you’ve got a terrorist in New York City, injure 31 American citizens and shoot two police officer, but what the American people see is someone laying on a gurney with their hand behind their neck and he’s doing everything short of smoking a cigarette."

Matt Pearl:  Has this been followed enough?

Dr. Alexander: "We still have a lot of work to do. There are still departments across the country that haven’t picked that document up, to be frank with you, but there are some who have.

"I think here in Georgia, particularly metro Atlanta, we all are doing our very best to make sure we maintain those relationships.

"You cannot ignore it. You cannot overlook it. It’s something that we have to look at and what it is that we can do better."

Alexander stressed repeatedly that presidential candidates be questioned hard about addressing this issue, particularly at the debates beginning next week.

WEB EXTRA: More of the interview with Dr. Cedric Alexander

PHOTOS: Crowds gather in protest after officer-involved shooting 


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