MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission says former Police Chief Alfonso Morales will resume his old job next week after he and the city failed to come to a financial settlement before the deadline set by a judge.
The FPC demoted Morales to captain last August amid ongoing tensions between the then-chief and the powerful oversight body. Morales then resigned from the police department in protest. He has since been fighting to get the settlement or, as he has stated publicly, willingly resume the position of police chief.
Such a settlement could amount to almost half a million dollars.
Milwaukee County Judge Chris Foley originally ruled the city must come to a settlement before July 3, but that deadline was pushed back to July 12 as negotiations deadlocked. If no settlement is reached, the city must reinstate Morales, Foley ruled. The judge argued the FPC did not give Morales due process when they demoted him.
The FPC said in a statement Friday that commissioners have agreed to extend Morales' reinstatement from July 12 to Thursday, July 15. "This extension has been agreed to so that Mr. Morales’ return date coincides with the next meeting of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, at which three new commissioners will begin their service on the FPC Board," according to the FPC.
Commissioners said earlier Friday that Morales would resume his job on Monday when the grace period for negotiations ends.
Morales indicated during an interview in May that he wants to resume the police chief position, saying that "If that's the card they want to play, I'm ready to come back. It has to be done. I don't know if they realize what they have done. My biggest thing is why has the city taken this stance."
Morales' legal team is also suing the city in federal court, arguing the former chief's civil rights were violated when he was demoted.
#BREAKING: As of July 12, Milwaukee will have a "new" permanent Chief of Police.— Shaun Gallagher (@ShaunGalNews) July 9, 2021
Alfonso Morales will be reinstated according to the Milwaukee Fire & Police Commission. This avoids a likely half million dollar settlement the city would have had to make with Morales. pic.twitter.com/INE9C676fX
Milwaukee police released the following statement:
The Milwaukee Police Department is not involved in the negotiations as it relates to this matter. Regardless of how the process resolves, MPD remains committed to working with our community and system partners to continue to build sustainable neighborhoods free of crime that are built on positive relationships.
Reaction from Milwaukeeans
"I think it’s triggering a lot of the protesters, triggering a lot of the residents that feel Morales was not doing a great job, and it's disappointing to see," said community advocate and 101.7 The Truth personality Tory Lowe.
Before his demotion, the FPC issued a series of directives to the chief, which his attorney said were unclear and called a "personal attack." Some of the directives included access to records on several cases, such as the arrests of former Bucks player Sterling Brown and activist Vaun Mayes, as well as information on the use of tear gas at 6th and McKinley.
"I think that when he comes back, he still should be able to answer those directives and give an explanation to families on how these situations were handled," Lowe said.
Meanwhile, some say they want Morales back as top cop.
"We’re looking forward to having him back at the helm and getting Milwaukee straightened out again," said Carmelo Fazzari. "I think we need him back ASAP."
Fazzari spoke highly of Morales back in 2019 when the FPC was considering his reappointment, and he says he still feels the same today. His family owns Calderone Club in Fox Poin and downtown, and he says he's concerned about crime.
"All my customers who I talk to don't want to go back downtown Milwaukee because they feel unsafe, and a lot of my customers are looking forward to him coming back," Fazzari said.
MPD data shows certain crimes, such as car thefts, are up this year compared to the same time frame in 2020. Data shows homicide, arson and burglary are down in 2021 compared to last year.