Saturday, December 7, 2013

Former Rochester, NY Police Chief Cedric Alexander Will Have his Work Cut Out for him When it Comes to Leading an Out of Control Police Force that Does Not Care about the Mentally-Ill

Cedric Alexander
By Davy Vara
With the talk of the town in Rochester, NY being about whether or not former interim Rochester Police Chief Cedric Alexander, who lead the RPD for 9 months in 2005, will return to serve as Chief under Mayor-Elect Lovely Warren's new administration, I thought it would be a good opportunity to remind my fellow short-term memory Rochesterians, of Alexander's failed tenure as Chief.
In a 2005 write-up on a site called The National Psychologist, former Rochester, NY Police Chief Cedric Alexander is lauded as a hero of sorts for his creation of the Emotionally Disturbed Persons Response Team (EDPRT), a team of officers "specially trained to deal with emotionally unstable and mentally-ill individuals."
“As much as 80 percent of the calls we go to in this city, even across America, has a mental health component attached to it, anything from domestic abuse to somebody who’s feeling distress. It became important to me to look at a list of mental health issues police officers are not really trained to do," Alexander explains.
“When you have officers who have a little better insight to these issues it allows them to do their job a little better, which results in less injuries to both officers and people,” said Alexander, described in the article as a "self-effacing man who tends to shy away from taking praise for the program’s success."
“What I wanted to accomplish,” said Alexander, “was to help officers to be more broadly trained to cope with the challenges they have on the street and to help people.”
One Rochester Police Sgt., Eric Weaver, the EDPRT Commander described the program this way.
"What we’ve accomplished over the last two years is tremendous. And how this community has come together in working with law enforcement is something I haven’t seen in the 20 years I’ve been on the force.”
Weaver added that under Alexander's leadership, he sees the "EDRPT as much more than a team of officers that respond out to individuals who are suicidal or mentally ill. 
"We have successfully taken people to hospitals and mental health facilities for care and treatment. And we follow-up. That’s phenomenal.”
When RPD Sgt. Eric Weaver was asked if incidents of police and public injuries were down, Weaver responded, "Absolutely", adding, "This is a result of the chief’s program.
Rochester Police Sgt. Eric Weaver added, “In school what we address more than anything is stigma awareness. We spend a tremendous amount of time dispelling stigma myths, stereotypes of mental illness, what they are and what they really mean.
“We try to break down walls and barriers that people and society have concerning mental health. We try to change the perception of officers in what mental health is and what it’s all about.”

Really Sgt. Weaver?
Some in the Rochester community, such as myself, strongly disagree.

In fact, Rochester, NY Police officers have clearly shown that they do not care about individuals with suffering from mental illness.

And I have a different take not only on the Rochester Police department's EDRPT, but also on Cedric Alexander, the man who Rochester Mayor-Elect Lovely Warren says is her top choice for Rochester Police Chief.
Enter Lashedica Mason.
On July 10, 2005, 13-year old LaShedica was suicidal, when she locked herself up in the bathroom of her home on St. Jacob Street on Rochester’s eastside.
Her relatives called 911 for assistance.
Rochester, NY Police Sgt. Mark Simmons,
shot 13-year old LaShedica Mason, who was suicidal.
Minutes later, Rochester Police officer Mark Simmons entered the home and as soon as he saw Mason holding a knife, he shot the 13 year old girl three times, including once in her abdomen.

Simply put, Rochester Police officer Mark Simmons
tried to kill a suicidal teen.
As a result of her injuries, LaShedica’s gall bladder, as well as several feet of her intestines had to be removed during surgery.
Ironically, just days before the shooting, acting Rochester Police Chief Cedric Alexander had announced the creation of the Rochester Police Department’s Emotionally Disturbed Persons Response Team (EDPRT).
The team, hailed as a being "specially trained to deal with despondent, suicidal, and emotionally unstable individuals", in situations such as LaShedica's, NEVER RESPONDED.
The result?
A suicidal teen was shot by a trigger-happy cop, who almost killed her.
Not long after trying to kill LaShedica, Rochester, NY Police officer Simmons was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
Sure, some Rochester Police cheerleaders will argue that Mason's incident was isolated, and that the RPD really values the EDRPT program, and that officers care about the mentally ill.
But despite the illusion that the Rochester, NY Police department wants the community to believe when it comes to their claim of being sympathetic towards individuals with mental health illness, as an activist exposing the Rochester Police department' long history of misconduct and corruption, I have found the opposite.
Enter "Chucky."
While on patrol on Rochester's west side, Rochester, NY Police officer Antonio Gonzalez came across a mentally-ill man, dressed in a martial arts uniform on Jefferson Avenue.

Instead of getting the man some help, Rochester Police officer Antonio Gonzalez he would record the man on video, while he and his fellow RPD officers laughed and sang the song 'Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting'.'

Gonzalez then posted the video on the Internet and titled it 'Name that Crackhead.'

Once online, Gonzalez and RPD officers Josue Traverzo and Luis Hernandez, commented on the video, continuing to ridicule the man and even listing the numerical address on Jefferson Ave. where the man could be found.

Photo Rochester, NY Police officer Nelson Soto took
of two elderly citizens in cold winter.
Soto later posted the photo on social media with the caption:
"4 Wheel Drive Wheelchairs."
Another Rochester Police officer who has shown the culture that exists within the Rochester, NY Police department when it comes to dealing with the mentally-ill
and the disabled, is RPD Sgt. Nelson Soto.
While on patrol, on a cold winter day, Sgt. Soto decided it would be funny to take a photo from within his warm police  cruiser, of two elderly, disabled individuals on motorized scooters trying to navigate snow covered streets.
Sgt. Soto then posted the photo on social media with the caption  "4 Wheel Drive Wheelchairs."
So the question is, can Cedric Alexander, a PhD with a doctorate in psychology, clean house and straighten out the Rochester, NY Police department, a police force with a long history of misconduct, corruption, and a lack of caring about individuals with mental health issues?
Can Alexander ensure that the EDPRT which he created is actually used by Rochester Police officers, before they open fire and execute mentally-ill individuals like Izzy Andino?

Can Alexander stop the racist culture which exists in the Rochester, NY Police department, where officers racially-profile, then arrest young African-American students waiting for a school bus?

Can Alexander stop over zealous cops who abuse their power by beating a one-legged amputee, after picking him up off his motorized wheelchair and slamming him to the concrete sidewalk, then beating him, because he too was also waiting for a bus?

Can Alexander be the Chief that James Sheppard was not?

I read that as Chief in DeKalb County, Georgia, Cedric Alexander has helped restore the image of a police force plagued with misconduct and corruption, including a recent incident where one of his officers, Brandon Brown was caught on video trying to shake down a citizen for a $50.00 bribe, after he caught the woman smoking marijuana.

Officer Brown later resigned. (SEE VIDEO BELOW).

Will Cedric Alexander do the same in Rochester, NY?

Can and will Alexander clean house, and turn around the corrupt Rochester, NY Police department?

One thing is for sure, he's got his work cut out for him.

Click the link below to check out my facebook page "Cedric Alexander Clean House in the Rochester, NY Police department!"

Note: Rochester, NY Police officer Antonio Gonzalez, who made, then posted the "Name that Crakhead" video, is one of the 7 Rochester Police officers who shot Izzy Andino, the mentally-ill young man, on his birthday.

Click Play to watch video Rochester, NY Police officer Antonio Gonzalez recorded of him and his fellow officers making fun of a mentally-ill man.

Click Play below to watch video of DeKalb County, Georgia officer Brandon Brown shaking woman down for $50.00 bribe.

Click Play to listen to see CNN News Radio correspondent Ninette Sosa's reporting on Alexander possibly becoming Rochester, NY's next police chief.

Click the link below to check out my facebook page "Cedric Alexander Clean House in the Rochester, NY Police department!"

Follow me on twitter