MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission voted Tuesday to allow itself to narrow the police chief candidate pool before bringing the finalists to the public at a town hall event.
Last month, the FPC committed to interviewing all six remaining finalists at a public event. That is no longer the plan. A majority of commissioners believe the initial interviews should happen behind closed doors.
Commissioners Ray Robakowski and Steven DeVougas said they have sensitive and difficult questions that don’t need to be asked in public.
“I don’t want to curtail the questions that I ask these individuals, I might have a very direct question,” Robakowski said.
FPC Chairman Nelson Soler voted against the measure that passed 4-3, calling for transparency throughout the hiring process.
“I want the six to move forward and to to the public,” he said. “We shouldn’t be limiting ourselves to three.”
A quickly arranged special FPC meeting last Friday to discuss this change abruptly ended in chaos. Robakowski called Soler a ‘dictator’ when he chose to block the vote.
“This special meeting is for a vote, you cannot hold it because you did not call for the meeting,” Robakowski said at the Oct. 9 meeting.
Soler said Friday that the public deserved to have a say in this decision.
”I know everybody's frustrated, at the same time, even though this meeting was called for a vote, the rules of order do not change,” Soler said.
After public comment Tuesday, Robakowski was able to convince just enough commissioners to have the process go his way.
“I don’t want to parade six individuals or six finalists to the public, I want to get it to the three,” he said.
After that public town hall event with the three finalists, the FPC will choose the city’s next police chief.
Separately at Tuesday night’s meeting, there was a little discussion about a rumored push by commissioners to add a former Milwaukee assistant chief to the list of finalists. Soler said that isn’t happening.