FPC Changes Process for Hiring Police Chief
Six finalists to be interviewed in private and public will be able to question three finalists.
The commission, led by Chair Nelson Soler, had originally intended to narrow the candidates for chief to six and then interview them publicly. It was to make a final decision on the next chief by December 3rd, according to Soler.
Now that’s changed.
“I am not in favor of interviewing six people at the same time publicly,” said Commissioner Fred Crouther. He said he would skip that process if it happened. He found support for changing the process from commissioners Steven M. DeVougas, Raymond Robakowski and Ann Wilson.
“I think it would be more effective for us to interview the candidates in private,” said DeVougas.
“I have a hard line question, and I want to make sure I get a hard line answer,” said Robakowski, a former police officer.
Cocroft had earlier said he was willing to compromise after calling Friday’s special meeting “chaos.” That meeting, called with less than 24 hours notice, featured Robakowski calling Soler a “dictator” when Soler moved to shut down the meeting.
“I’m trying to be the glue,” said the retired firefighter. “I’m trying to mend some fences here.”
“A lack of transparency and evenhandedness risks tainting the process for selecting a chief who will have the already daunting task of uniting the community deeply divided over the proper role of the Milwaukee Police Department,” wrote the council.
Robakowski said the public portion of the process was the most important and could take the shape of more than two meetings due to COVID-19.
“I ask that the public bear with us, we are doing the best we can,” said DeVougas.
In the background of the discussion was an issue that won’t go away, the addition of retired assistant chief Ray Banks as a seventh finalist. Two members of the public that testified asked for Banks to be added to the list. The retired chief applied for the job but wasn’t selected as a finalist.
“We have a recommendation for a seventh candidate that I have never heard any of us talk about,” said Robakowski. “This came from outer space.” He said it didn’t come from the commission.
The approved finalists for the position are MPD assistant chief Jeffrey Norman and five candidates from outside the department and this state: FBI supervisory special agent Hoyt Mahaley, Pittsburgh Police Department commander Jason Lando, Dallas Police Department major Malik Aziz, Police Police Department deputy Chris Davis and John E. Pate, a former police chief for a Chicago suburb and now a city manager in the Miami area.