Milwaukee Common Council wants authority to fire police chief

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's Common Council on Tuesday voted 8-6 to seek authority from the state to be able to fire a sitting police or fire chief. 

Right now, that duty rests with the city's Fire and Police Commission. 

The resolution "directs the Department of Administration - Intergovernmental Affairs Division to seek introduction and passage of State legislation... to grant the common council of a 1st class city the authority to remove the chief of police or the fire chief from office by a two-thirds majority vote of its members."

  • Voting in favor of the resolution were: Aldermen Nik Kovac, Bob Bauman, Khalif Rainey, Chantia Lewis, Mark Borkowski, Jose Perez, Tony Zielinski, and Russell Stamper. 
  • Voting no were: Aldermen Cavalier Johnson, Jim Bohl, Milele Coggs, Michael Murphy, Terry Witkowski, and Ashanti Hamilton. 

Borkowski said the vote was the result of a lack of communication from the police chief. 

"I don't think any of us have illusions of grandeur that this will get legs and actually pass (the state legislature)," Borkowski said. "But we're tired of not being listened to. We're tired of not being heard." 

But Bohl said the ability of the council to fire a chief may deter qualified candidates from seeking the position in the future. 

"A simple vote, that one member schedules, and then a 2/3 majority vote can just wipe them off the map, and they're gone," Bohl said. 

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett reacted quickly to the council’s action, saying he will veto the resolution. “For a century this city has had a system in place that was set up by the state government that would ensure that the city of Milwaukee Police Department would not be politicized. This move would politicize the police department and I will veto it as soon as it reaches my desk.”

The Milwaukee Police Department had no comment on the council's vote as of Tuesday afternoon. 

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