"What's past is prologue" would be an apt quotation to describe what ran through the mind of Cedric Anderson after he found out that he would become the next police chief of the Auburn Police Division.
It wasn't the context laid out by his becoming the first African-American police chief in Auburn's history, though. It was the context laid out by the history built by the police chiefs that preceded him.
"A lot of people kept saying, ‘I know you’re excited. I know you’re happy,’ but the thing that got me was I just kept reflecting on the people that came before me," said Anderson, who cited former chiefs he's worked for during his 27-year tenure at the Auburn Police Division — Ed Downing, Frank deGraffenried, Tommy Dawson and Paul Register. "Every one of these guys taught me something really important. The person that I am now as far as my understanding of the job and my ability — all of that is owed to those previous chiefs because I was able to work with each one of them and each one of them instilled a part of themselves in me.
"Every chief that has ever held the position here made history. It was a history-making moment. This is just another instance of it."
Anderson credited the former chiefs and his fellow officers, like John Dunn and John Lockhart, in helping him develop his own style of management, his own style of approaching the job.
"There were people that were not chiefs that really helped me out a lot," said Anderson. "Those are the people that I thought about when the announcement was made that I would be the next chief.
"I’m just hoping that I can help people to realize what those individuals meant to this place. I’m kind of carrying a torch for those guys as well. I’m what the chiefs groomed me to be. But I’m also a product of the other individuals who worked in the profession also."
That he could inspire youth in the African-American community as the first black police chief in Auburn is not lost on him, though.
"If anything you do helps inspire other people and helps them strive for and achieve anything they set out to accomplish, I think you’ve done something worthwhile," he said. "If me becoming the chief of police is going to help somebody or encourage somebody to reach for and strive for their dreams, then wonderful — I’m happy I was able to do that.
"But I tell these guys here all the time, we make history every day. Every employee here, every officer here, when they come to work and they go out here and they do their job, they’re making history. The cases they investigate, the reports they take, that’s history, that stuff’s documented, that’s going to be here from now on, so we’re all making history around here."
Anderson followed in his parents' footsteps, joining the Army for a two-year enlistment before coming to Auburn in 1988. He worked for a few years at the Auburn University Police Department before joining the city's Police Division in 1992. He's worked a wide array of jobs at APD over the years, including as a patrolman, narcotics detective, a supervisor in both the patrol and detective sections, a patrol captain and as assistant chief since 2016. He takes over as police chief on Sunday.
"It is just amazing to me that someone saw enough in me to entrust that level of responsibility, the level of trust you have to put in somebody to allow them to hold that position," he said. "I’m just very humbled and appreciative of the opportunity. I think that no one should see any difference in the way the police division functions. We will continue to provide a quality service to the community and I don’t foresee any type of a letdown or major change in the way we approach policing here in Auburn.
"My goal is to continue to build on the success of my predecessors. And I think as long as we do that, we’re destined for great things."