Palm Beach County schools pick new police chief

WLFX Fox 29 | April 19, 2021

The School District of Palm Beach County has tapped former Boca Raton Police Chief Daniel Alexander to lead the school district’s police department, officials announced on Monday.

Alexander, the current deputy chief of school police, will replace outgoing Chief Frank Kitzerow, who announced his resignation last week and will officially leave the department at the end of the month.

Alexander joined the school district’s police department in December of 2019 after serving as the Boca Raton police chief for more than 13 years.

Prior to that, he was the police chief in Cape Coral for four years.

“School policing is not what it used to be,” Alexander told WPTV on Monday. “It’s not a police officer standing in a bus loop somewhere and just watching kids.”

INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL ALEXANDER:Interview with incoming police chief Dan Alexander

Alexander said his primary focus in becoming chief will be to build upon the police department’s success over the last few years, including new technology to monitor schools and advanced threat assessment.

“I see us continuing the evolution,” Alexander said. “What’s different about school policing is we have one singular focus. And that’s to keep our schools safe every day.”

Alexander said one of the biggest challenges his agency has faced is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused tremendous levels of stress. The School District of Palm Beach County will return to traditional in-person education next school year, and get rid of distance learning related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our concern is that once we have some post-traumatic stress associated with this pandemic, that we’re able to deal with that in terms of providing wraparound services to our students as they come back into this environment,” Alexander said.

Alexander will be sworn-in as school district police chief on April 30, which will also be Chief Kitzerow’s last day.

Kitzerow became the school district’s police chief in July of 2018, just months after the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

In the years that followed, Kitzerow oversaw a major milestone of having at least one school district police officer at all 179 district-operated schools.

However, the president of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association said Kitzerow’s tenure was marred by low morale within the police department, a labor practice lawsuit against the chief, as well as with several grievances.

“Morale is tough everywhere in this field right now,” Alexander said. “There’s a lot happening in the environment related to policing that’s very challenging. Race-related issues, use of force, police reform, the pandemic.”

The incoming chief said there’s a need to establish a new contract with the school district for police officers, which he feels could improve morale within the department.

In addition, his plan is to listen, collaborate, and keep an open door policy for his team.

“[Parents] want to know that their kids are safe first. And ultimately, that’s what drives us day in and day out,” Alexander said.

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