MUSEUM ORAL HISTORY

Dr. Cedric L. Alexander
Interviewed by Brien R. Williams
Oral history interview for the National Law Enforcement Museum with Dr. Cedric L. Alexander, deputy chief operating officer in the Office of Public Safety in DeKalb County, Georgia, and former president of NOBLE, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

 “We maintain law and order, do what we’re sworn to do…we’re aware of [our biases and prejudices]…and we treat everybody the same regardless.”

In 1970s Florida if someone wanted to attend the police academy, they would either have to already have a job with a Florida police department or pay $100 and get a police chief or sheriff to sign off on their paperwork. For Dr. Cedric Alexander, Sheriff Hamlin was his last chance. “I didn’t even know how to dress for an interview,” recalled Alexander, “I went over there in a jean jacket, jeans, [and] a skull cap, like a typical college student.” Hamlin had a “reputation of being a sexist and a racist and a bigot”, but the two men found common ground. After two and half hours of talking, Hamlin signed Alexander’s paperwork and they went their separate ways, yet Alexander says, “Everything in my career over the last 37 years is because Sheriff Raymond Hamlin opened the door and gave me an opportunity that nobody else would.”

Alexander’s conversation with Sheriff Hamlin paved his way into the police academy and local law enforcement. Now as a law enforcement official, Alexander encourages everyone to take a second look at people and try to truly follow Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s lesson of judging people by the content of their character and not by first impressions. The challenges of being a black man in the United States are keenly felt by Alexander who is all too aware of the precarious tight rope African-American officers must walk in their communities. He says, “It’s a double-edge sword for a black police officer because… you’ve got to be sensitive to the struggles and history in your own population, but you also are tied to the responsibilities and the oath that you’ve taken as a law enforcement official.”









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The Museum's Witness to History program is generously funded by the Target Corporation©.