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Head of DeKalb Co. public safety watching Ferguson situation | News

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Head of DeKalb Co. public safety watching Ferguson situation
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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- One of metro Atlanta's top law enforcement executives is giving advice to police around the country on how to handle any potential violence stemming from Ferguson, Missouri.

Back in August, Dr. Cedric Alexander, Head of Public Safety in Dekalb County, was one of the first people on the ground in Ferguson; his presence was requested by Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson following the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer.

Dr. Alexander traveled to Ferguson as head of National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, brought in to help strengthen the department's relationships with its majority black community.

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Nearly three months later, leaked grand jury testimony indicates that Officer Darren Wilson may not face charges for in the shooting death of Michael Brown. That decision could potentially reignite the violent flames between protesters and police.

With the grand jury decision expected any day now, Dr. Alexander told 11Alive's Blayne Alexander that at the request of the Department of Justice, he is on standby to go back again, if necessary. Dr. Alexander's approach is to expect the best, but be prepared if the worst happens.

"Yes, all eyes are on Ferguson," Alexander said. "Talking to many of my police colleagues across the country, those in the criminal justice system, we all are paying very close attention."

In many cases, steps are already being taken.

Alexander says law enforcement officials expect to receive at least one day's notice before the decision is released.

Both Atlanta and DeKalb County police are already discussing officer response, should any potential protests lead to violence in metro Atlanta.

Meanwhile, Dr. Alexander says that police chiefs across the country have started reaching out to him for advice.

"They are certainly concerned about their communities, what they need to be doing in the meantime, and what I just assured them to do is what they've always done -- make sure they keep those lines of communication open with their community leaders," Alexander said.

Alexander says that communication is key, and remains optimistic that stronger relationships between community and police less chance the violent images from August will replay themselves on the streets of Ferguson or anywhere else.

"There's no reason to ring any alarm bell, let me be clear about that," he stressed, saying of the plans: "this is just being smart. This is us being thoughtful."

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