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'No credibility': Public accuses Fire and Police Board of playing politics over interim chief choice

Posted at 10:17 PM, Feb 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-15 23:56:37-05

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Board chose the interim Milwaukee Police Chief Thursday night, but before the commission announced its decision, members of the public accused the board of playing politics.

Milwaukee is about 24 hours away from a changing of the guard, as Captain Alfonso Morales will take over as interim MPD police chief Friday.

But the real focus turned away from Morales' selection. On outgoing MPD Chief Ed Flynn's last night on the job, there was one last round of fireworks between the Fire and Police Commission and the public.

"Many feel like it's already a foregone conclusion who you picked to be the police chief," said a meeting attendee.

"It has gotten to the point of this Fire and Police Commission that there's no credibility," said another meeting attendee.

"People are looking at us like this is like a joke what you guys are doing. Like they are wondering if people got a fair shake," another meeting attendee said.

People were concerned Fire and Police Commission Executive Director MaryNell Regan had a conflict of interest backing one of the candidates.

The process was so concerning to Assistant Chief James Harpole that he withdrew as a finalist and instead is retiring from the department. That left the commission two candidates, Captain Alfonso Morales and Inspector Michael Brunson. They picked Morales in a 4 to 3 vote.

"This has been a humbling experience. I want to give the City of Milwaukee community credit as well as the Fire and Police Commission for the process," said Morales. 

It is a process Mayor Tom Barrett said was fair.

"I think you are going to see a new level of enthusiasm and excitement in the police department," said Barrett.

The Chair of the Commission Steven DeVougas agrees and had one more response for the outgoing chief as he selected Morales.

"The community didn't want status quo," said DeVougas. "I think Chief Flynn was invited to be a part of the process and he declined having an exit interview with me, he declined his review so his time to be involved in the process had passed. He's old news, we turned a new page."