MILWAUKEE — A meeting between City Attorneys and Chief Alfonso Morales’ attorney yielded no progress toward what to do with the longtime Milwaukee police officer.
“I do not feel today’s meeting was one that advanced our understanding of the road we’re going to be taking,” Franklyn Gimbel, Morales’ attorney said. “We did not have a meaningful conversation on either issue.”
The two issues, Gimbel says, are the possible outcomes related to Morales’ future. One solution is having Morales take his position back as the Chief of Police.
“The question about what does Chief Morales want to do with respect to his relationship with the City of Milwaukee is yet to be determined,” Gimbel said. “What will the City do if, in fact, he walks back into the Police Administration Building and says, 'get out of my seat, it belongs to me according to Judge Foley.'”
The second outcome, according to Gimbel, is finding a financial settlement that will compensate Morales for the contract he signed last year when he was reappointed to a new, 4-year term.
“We are considering filing a federal civil rights case against the city, seeking damages for the loss of contract rights and harassment he and his family suffered by protesters outside of his house and threats to his children,” Gimbel said. “Or, we go to state court looking for damages that flowed from the breach of his contract which was to have run out in January of 2024.”
It was a contract the FPC granted him last December. It’s a body that commands plenty of respect, as one of the most powerful civilian oversight boards in the country. But the FPC seems to be losing more respect over its dysfunction this year than gaining any ground.
The Executive Director and another Commissioner resigned from their positions in October. Another has faced a lawsuit for an ethics violation.
Plus, the entire commission can’t come to an agreement in voting for the next Chief; the board has had two votes tie at three.
Now, it’s another standstill.
“There is a huge disparity between the voices of those in City Hall who want to move down the road and resolve the case and those who want to dig their heels in and say we want to fight this guy,” Gimbel said. “Who holds the winning cards is yet to be determined.”
There have been many moving parts over the last several months and will continue into the new year. Acting Chief Michael Brunson, who took over for Morales in August, is set to retire Wednesday. Assistant Chief Jeffrey Norman will take over as Acting Chief until further notice.
When that notice is, who knows. The Fire and Police Commission cannot come to an agreement on a long-term replacement between its two finalists, Dallas Major Malik Aziz or FBI Special Agent Hoyt Mahaley. Now, Morales is back in the mix as a potential option but it’s still not clear whether he will try to get his job back after Judge Foley ruled, he shouldn’t have been demoted in the first place.
“If it were Frank Gimbel, I wouldn’t go back in that place if someone led me there with a shotgun behind my head,” Gimbel said. “In theory, [Morales] could, but after he was demoted, he retired from the Department. What he would need to do between the paperwork and retaking that position, he’d have to reverse his decision to retire. His attorneys are telling him to stay calm and walk, not run, until we flesh out what happens in the event, he walks back in the building to assert his authority.”
Gimbel anticipates no progress will be made on his topic until after the Christmas Holiday and New Year’s.
Requests for comment from members of the Fire and Police Commission, the mayor’s Office, and City Attorney’s Office were not returned.