Local police official says departments should learn from Ferguson

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - The man who oversees DeKalb County's Public Safety Department experienced the tension in Ferguson firsthand.

Channel 2 Action News traveled to Missouri with Doctor Cedric Alexander this weekend.

Alexander was there this weekend representing a national police organization. He said he visited the Missouri town to help them bridge the gap between the local police and the community. He says it's key to have open lines of communication in place long before a crisis.

"I think one of things that struck me the most is the anger that community has toward the police there,” Alexander told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.

Alexander said that anger stems from the lack of a relationship between police in Ferguson and the community.

Channel 2's Ryan Young was with Alexander as he arrived in Missouri Saturday and met with Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson.

Alexander is also the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. He said he went to Missouri in that role to help ease tensions.

“The biggest thing that I was able to do going in there as an outsider representing NOBLE was to get them at the table,” said Alexander. “That was huge."

Alexander said maintaining a dialogue with the community is a constant priority here at home, not just in times of crisis.

He believes the meetings they had this weekend should have happened long before the recent days of civil unrest.

It all started with the police shooting of unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown. Alexander said NOBLE’s goal is to help Ferguson find working solutions to address concerns at the ground level.

“They're going to look at their hiring practices, on increasing diversity within that department which is a huge issue there,” said Alexander.

NOBLE will also help them with training. Alexander said he’s already made a call to the Justice Department for resources in an effort to move the community forward.

“When this is all over and everyone is gone, it's going be that police department and it's going to be that community,” said Alexander.

Alexander says once this community heals this could be a learning experience for law agencies across the country. He says every department should take note of what’s happening in Ferguson

“It is really hard to imagine that you have police and community that are so separated from each other,” said Alexander. “There's still pockets out there across the country that struggle.”