MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission said it will proceed with selecting the city’s next police chief despite several common council members calling for an immediate halt to the process.
Nearly half of the common council sent a letter to the FPC and the city attorney Thursday asking for the chief search to be put on hold due to a number of issues questioning the validity and efficiency of the FPC. At a meeting Thursday night, the FPC’s chairman dismissed their concerns.
Just two days before the three finalists for Milwaukee police chief answer the community’s questions in their first virtual town hall, FPC Chairman Nelson Soler declined a request by common council members to suspend the search.
“We should continue with the process as announced, as presented to the public so the public can weigh in,” Soler said.
Alderwoman Chantia Lewis and six other common council members sent a letter to the FPC and the city attorney Thursday citing public and private dysfunction within the FPC, a pending lawsuit stemming from the demotion of former Chief Alfonso Morales and most notably, the recent resignations of FPC executive director Griselda Aldrete and commissioner Raymond Robakowski.
“Without an executive director how can we move forward?” asked Ald. Lewis. “That is the one who manages and oversees and executes all of the commands that the commission gives them.”
“We knew that the executive director was leaving the position back in July. It was known,” responded Soler at a FPC meeting Thursday night.
Soler said the commission needs to stick to its timeline of having a new chief in office by December because that’s when Acting Chief Michael Brunson is set to retire. Ald. Lewis believes another interim chief would suffice to allow the FPC to sort out issues before making an important decision.
“It’s about finding the right leadership so that is what’s most important to me and in protecting the process and making sure that we have integrity in that process as well,” Ald. Lewis said.
Soler said Mayor Barrett plans to appoint a new FPC executive director this month, but he argues that vacancy isn’t a problem because the chief responds to the commission and not its director.
TMJ4 News reached out to all three police chief finalists for comment about this and two of the three responded by Thursday night.
“I look forward to the process of being selected as the next police chief of Milwaukee no matter the time frame,” said MPD Chief finalist and current Dallas Police Major Malik Aziz.
“I have complete confidence in the decision makers involved, and I am sure they will arrive at the best decision and process for the community,” said MPD Chief finalist and current FBI supervisory special agent Hoyt Mahaley.