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Judge's ruling reverses demotion of former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales

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Posted at 6:14 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 08:47:59-05

MILWAUKEE — MILWAUKEE -- A judge has reversed the Fire and Police Commission's decision to demote former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales.

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Foley said the decision of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission to demote Morales from police chief to captain was not proper.

In a seven page ruling, Milwaukee County Judge Christopher Foley condemns the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission. Foley writes the Commission failed to follow basic requirements for ousting the city’s top cop, writing in part, “It is clear this entire process was flawed.”

Morales’s attorney Frank Gimbel calls the ruling a “clear win” for his client.

“Because he has been vindicated,” Gimbel said. “The decision of the court demonstrates that there was no basis for the Fire and Police Commission to take the action that they did in the manner that they did.”

With this decision, Judge Foley says the process must start all over again. If the FPC chooses to once again try and demote Chief Morales, they have to go through all the steps again.

The FPC must give Morales his due process, Foley said, which the judge argued he was deprived of the first time.

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission unanimously voted to demote Morales back in August.

Morales' attorney praises judge's decision to reverse demotion

Following the previous demotion decision, Morales retired on his own.

Gimbel said it’s up to his client what he wants to do next.

“As of Monday of next week he may be polishing his uniform buttons and go back to the police station and whoever else is sitting in that chair for the moment is going to have to find an alternate chair to sit in, or there will be a discussion about some kind of a financial resolution,” Gimbel said.

FPC Commissioner Steven DeVougas, who was chairman of the Commission at the time of Morales’s demotion, told TMJ4 News he believes there will be some sort of financial settlement.

DeVougas also said, “It’s a mess.”

Judge Foley wrote he recognizes this ruling creates a problem for the city—specifically the problem of having, “…’two chiefs.’ But that is a potential dilemma of the Commission’s own making and wholly ignores the detrimental impact of the fundamentally flawed process on the interests of Mr. Morales.”

The FPC remains deadlocked between two candidates up for Milwaukee Police Chief, Hoyt Mahaley and Malik Aziz.

In response to tonight's ruling both of those candidates responded to our requests for comment.

Hoyt Mahaley said, "The city has a dilemma that must be addressed. It is my hope that it will be done expeditiously. I remain optimistic, however I’m concerned with the fact that the citizens of Milwaukee continue to be plagued by violent crimes, traffic violations, strained community relationships and much more. These issues must remain the focus of the the Milwaukee Police Department and the citizens it serves.”

Meanwhile, Malik Aziz said he "has no comment on the matter until the Executive Director or Chair calls me.”

When asked to clarify if this news changes his intention on pursuing the position he said, “I will await more clarification from FPC before I make a decision.”

Thursday night the Commission picked Assistant Chief Jeffrey Norman to succeed Acting Chief Michael Brunson. Brunson is set to retire Wednesday.

This is a developing story. Stay with TMJ4 News for updates.

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