Two neighboring cities, two different police chief openings – and Milwaukee’s Acting Police Chief Jeffrey Norman is a candidate for both.
Will he choose to stay in Milwaukee or go to Wauwatosa if that job is offered? There’s a lot at play in the decision, but it will likely come down to one thing – timing.
Norman finished off this week at an event with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. When pressed on being a prime candidate for the police chief job in Wauwatosa, Norman put the focus on his current role.
“Right now, I'm focused on being the chief of Milwaukee,” Norman said. “I'm focused on the responsibilities at hand.”
But this Monday, he’s one of three final Wauwatosa police chief candidates participating in a public forum to earn that job.
“He’s highly regarded,” said Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride. “He’d be a great fit for what Wauwatosa needs. Me and the common council president in Milwaukee were playfully fighting over Chief Norman recently.”
Mayor Barrett and other Milwaukee leaders acknowledged earlier this week that they are not giving up on their chances of getting Norman to stay.
“I can tell you I think he would be a very solid police chief in Milwaukee,” Barrett said.
Norman applied to be police chief in Milwaukee but was not selected as a finalist by the city’s fire and police commission. He became acting chief in December when Michael Brunson retired.
In that time, Norman has gotten a lot of positive feedback.
“I’m humbled by the kind words being put out in regard to my responsibilities, duties, and credentials,” Norman said.
Wauwatosa is expected to hire its new police chief in a matter of weeks. Milwaukee is a lot further off. The hiring process is on hold, as the city is set to begin mediation with former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales.
“A lot of this is going to depend on what Acting Chief Norman wants to do as well,” Barrett said.
So, what does Norman - a Milwaukee native, who’s climbed the ranks - want to do?
“I've actually very proud as to where I’m at, in the work that's been done,” Norman said. “But again, it's not about me. The men and women of the fine city of Milwaukee and its police department have really been the ones holding the line and doing the work that we all see out here in public safety. I'm just the person out in front asking for the community to please support us and understand that the work - especially in 2021 - is difficult, and we're doing our best with the resources and support that we have.”