Regardless of what action the Pensacola City Council may take, the city’s first black chief of police won’t continue in the job past May 14, Pensacola mayor Ashton Hayward told WEAR last week.
Alexander has said publicly he’d like to stay on as chief, but a city ordinance requires Alexander to retire in May due to his decision in 2012 — before being appointed chief — to enter the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP. Many of Alexander’s supporters have called on the city council to change that ordinance.
In Pensacola’s “strong mayor” form of government, however, the police chief works directly for the mayor. Even if the city council were to change the law, Hayward would have to agree to keep Alexander on as chief. But Hayward made it clear last week that Chief Alexander won’t be asked to stay.
Instead, assistant police chief Tommi Lyter will be promoted to chief, Hayward said.
Alexander, 56, has served as a Pensacola police officer for more than three decades, first joining the department as a cadet in 1983. Hayward appointed Alexander as chief in 2015, making him the first black chief in department’s nearly 200-year history.
Hayward’s decision comes ahead of city councilwoman Sherri Myers’ introduction of an resolution asking the city council to express its continued confidence in Chief Alexander, which will be discussed at this week’s city council meeting. Myers doesn’t believe that the city council needs to change the law, arguing that since Alexander is a contract employee, the mayor could choose to continue his contract independently of the rules the apply to normal employees.
“I don’t know that there is anything that prohibits the mayor from extending the contract,” Myers said. “It is ultimately up to the mayor, one way or another.”