Minneapolis' first community safety commissioner could be Cedric Alexander, a nationally known law enforcement veteran with expertise in psychology.

Alexander will take the helm of a new department aiming to better coordinate police, fire, violence prevention and other safety services, if the City Council approves of the changes later this summer.

In a news conference announcing his nomination Thursday afternoon, Alexander sought to acknowledge both residents' demands for meaningful change following the murder of George Floyd and the demands placed on first responders who face staffing shortages and fresh scrutiny of their work.

"We know the history of this community before George Floyd. We know that George Floyd is still very much a part of our lives," Alexander said. "People still feel the pain around it, but the most important thing here is that we never forget the history and the challenges, but what we have to look forward to now is a future of change."

The announcement of Alexander's nomination came less than a week after city officials signed off on a plan to hire a commissioner to lead a new Office of Community Safety. That proposal has been a focal point in public discussions about how city leaders should best seek to fulfill a promise to transform public safety after Floyd's murder in 2020.

"We are at a seminal moment in that work to reshape and redefine the way we serve the public for purposes of safety. … Dr. Alexander has effectively been on the cutting edge of this community safety work for quite some time," Mayor Jacob Frey said during the news conference. "He has my full faith, he has my full confidence."

Alexander, 67, spent more than 40 years working in law enforcement, beginning his training in Florida in the 1970s. He went on to work for a variety of local, state and federal agencies. Among other roles, he served as the police chief in Rochester, N.Y., and as public safety director in Georgia's DeKalb County, near Atlanta.

Alexander was a member of then-President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing and previously served as president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

In the 1990s, he earned a master's degree in marriage and family therapy and a doctorate in clinical psychology, according to the American Psychological Association's website. He has been featured as a law enforcement expert on national news networks, runs a consulting company that has provided guidance to the University of Minnesota and other agencies, and he frequently serves as a public speaker.

Frey said Alexander — whom he nominated for the new role — landed on his radar after the city hired California-based Public Sector Search & Consulting to help find a successor for former Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who retired earlier this year. Alexander is part of the team conducting that search.

"As we began exploring a number of different options for our chief of police, and I was looking both locally and nationally for the best possible experts to be the commissioner, what became more and more readily apparent is top tier talent was right in front of me," the mayor said.

Alexander said he was fishing 20 miles offshore from his home in Pensacola, Fla., when he received a call from Frey asking him to serve as the community safety commissioner. In the time that followed, the pair said they had a series of "wonderful" and "tough conversations."

If Alexander is cleared to take the new role, he'll inherit a series of departments undergoing their own challenges and transitions. The city is looking for a new chief to head the Minneapolis Police Department, which continues to face demands to increase accountability and curb violent crime. It's seeking a new leader for the division housing violence prevention programs, after its first director left to take another job. The city's 911 center has its own staffing shortages.

Alexander said he believes this moment presents an opportunity unlike any other in his career. "It's not just this city. It's this moment in time that we're in in America's history, where we … have an opportunity to show people that we can do something differently."

In the coming weeks, City Council members will decide whether to confirm Alexander for the new role and whether to set up the new Office of Community Safety. Alexander would report directly to the mayor and supervise the chiefs of police, fire, violence prevention and other programs. He'd receive a salary between roughly $295,000 and $350,000.

Alexander spent part of Thursday at City Hall, meeting elected leaders. As Alexander's nomination moves along, Council Member Elliott Payne said he will be looking for more information about his views on how to improve accountability within the Police Department and his experience outside of law enforcement.

While noting that Alexander's resume appears to be "quite varied," Payne said he wants to ensure that the new commissioner is "somebody who has that more holistic mindset and doesn't quickly go to a militaristic model."

"I'm interested in his background being law enforcement and whether or not we should at least be looking at other candidates that might have more of a public health background or civilian background," he said.

Council President Andrea Jenkins reiterated her support for the creation of a new office that oversees all public safety operations — a move she hopes will help "restore a sense of trust, accountability and professionalism" to Minneapolis police.

But shifting the department's internal culture may prove a difficult task.

"I think he's well suited," Jenkins said, noting that only "time will tell if he's going to be able to help effectuate some of the change that we all want to see in our community."

Staff writer Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.