Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

FPC Gives Morales 11 Directives, Threatens Firing For Non-Compliance

Move comes as part of six month review of Morales' performance.

By - Jul 20th, 2020 06:42 pm
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Police Chief Alfonso Morales speaks at a press conference on the DNC. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Police Chief Alfonso Morales speaks at a press conference on the DNC in early 2020. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales has very clear and lengthy marching orders from the independent Fire & Police Commission.

On Monday evening the commission handed down 11 directives to the chief with a tight timeline for response. The directives come as part of a six-month performance evaluation.

Executive Director Griselda Aldrete read the commission’s demands into the record. Aldrete, reading the commissioners’ document, said the directives were a result of community demands, the response to recent civil unrest and delays or lack of cooperation by the Milwaukee Police Department in providing information.

The first directive includes a requirement to provide full audits and reports related to the incidents involving Sterling Brown, Kareem McKinley, Tari Davis and Vaun Mayes with timelines ranging from seven to 30 days. Morales also must provide details regarding the safeguarding of evidence, a public explanation on when tear gas is used and an update on the compliance with the American Civil Liberties Union settlement.

Other directives include the requirement to implement a mask policy for officers, to partner with local organizations and the commission on community-oriented policing strategies, to produce and implement a discipline matrix, to appear at all FPC full board and committee meetings “unless unavailable” and written notice submitted 24-hours in advance, to copy the executive director on all communications with the commission and to comply with all commission records requests regardless of the status of an investigation.

One directive maintains the six-month review process that Morales is currently undergoing. Another requires Morales to explain why seven investigators were fired in February 2019.

Morales must provide a status briefing on all of the efforts at the August 6th commission meeting.

What happens if Morales doesn’t comply? He could be terminated, suspended or face a reduction in rank. The commission is the only body to hire or fire the police chief. The directives are legal orders.

None of the commissioners, who had met previously with Morales in closed session last week, offered a comment on the directives. The board, chaired by Steven M. DeVougas, unanimously adopted the directives.

In the directives, the commission said Morales “unduly delayed or outright ignored” previous requests.

Morales is being represented by attorney Frank Gimbel, who said the directives are a distraction from issues within the commission. “Much of the information they requested today has already been provided to them,” said Gimbel in a press conference after the meeting. He called the commission’s approach “very aggressive.”

Morales was given a full four-year term as police chief in December 2019 after finishing out the term of retired chief Edward A. Flynn.

The last directive issued by the commission, a procedure rarely used, was to order Flynn to reinstate the pursuit policy.

While the commission met inside City Hall, a “fire Morales” protest group gathered outside the building alongside a smaller pro-Morales group that included members of the Milwaukee Police Association.

The Morales review isn’t the only issue facing the commission. DeVougas is now being reviewed for an ethics violation involving a conflict of interest that goes back to Morales’ reappointment, the commission lacks approximately half of its staff necessary to perform investigations and comply with the complicated ACLU settlement and Aldrete withdrew from consideration for reappointment, blaming the council for favoring “spectacle, not merit.”

Seven of the 15 members of the Common Council issued a press release Monday night that said they have lost confidence in Morales’ ability to lead the department.

A number of people were critical of how the review process worked, including Office of Violence Prevention director Reggie Moore and dozens of people on social media for whom the live video never appeared because the official FPC notice sent them to a video stream the meeting was not broadcast on.

“Six months after aggressively approving a four-year contract for Chief Morales with little notice and community input, the Fire and Police Commission has yet again presided over a poorly executed review that has lacked transparency. There has been no criteria released for this review and after a series of canceled and closed meetings, the commission aggressively pushes a meeting that results in directives that have yet to be made public,” said Moore in a statement. “At a time when the world is calling for greater transparency and justice when it comes to policing, the Fire and Police Commission continues to provide the opposite. The most powerful citizen review board in the country functions as the weakest and continues to foster confusion and division, that threatens the safety of residents, officers, and our city.”

Urban Milwaukee is working to obtain a written copy of the directives. As of 7:00 a.m. the directives had not been posted to the official record of the meeting in the city’s legislative management system. A video of the meeting was posted online.

Directives Video

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More about the Fire & Police Commission's Troubles

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