Alders Want Police Chief Search Paused Following FPC Resignations
City struggles to find stability in police oversight body.
Seven of 15 council members issued a letter Thursday to the Fire & Police Commission and City Attorney Tearman Spencer calling for a “temporary halt” to the selection of a new police chief.
The letter comes after three high-profile resignations were submitted in the past week.
Outgoing Executive Director Griselda Aldrete left before a permanent replacement was found, reversing her May announcement. Her chief of staff Tammy Majewski is resigning November 10th and blames the “current climate at City Hall.” Commissioner Raymond Robakowski announced his resignation after less than a year on the board.
“For months we have heard public and private reports of dysfunction within the Commission from the level of senior staff on down. Many Common Council members have asked publicly whether there are enough staff members still on duty to perform even the most basic tasks of the Commission, much less to undertake the structural changes in both its own operation and those of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Departments that are so desperately needed,” wrote the council members. “We wonder who is preparing promotional lists? Who is monitoring the ACLU settlement? Who is ensuring that our hiring and promotional processes are as inclusive as this community needs and demands? And who is monitoring the complaints of citizens at a time where police-community relations appear to be at low ebb?”
“The current disorder in the operations of the Fire and Police Commission has become a public spectacle that needs to end as soon as is possible. Please know that we stand ready to help to bring it to an end in any way that we can. No chief, however, should be hired under these circumstances; to do so threatens to make a difficult situation worse,” wrote the members.
It also calls on the independently-elected City Attorney to provide an update on litigation in which the city is involved, including Morales’ legal claim.
The commission’s board is led by Nelson Soler, who has sparred with other members, including Robakowski, on the police chief selection process. Soler and Angela McKenzie did not participate in closed session interviews of six finalists after voting against a change to the process.
Two public listening sessions are now planned for a field of three finalists, the first one is this Saturday.
Mayor Tom Barrett said last Friday that the commission’s full-time staff would be “managed internally” for the time being, but didn’t identify a specific leader.
Council President Cavalier Johnson, who did not sign the council letter, placed a communication file on Monday’s Steering and Rules Committee agenda to receive information from the Barrett administration on who is running the commission, the status of hiring a new executive director, when an appointment for a new executive director will be made and when appointments will be made to completely fill the board with nine members.
Barrett said on Friday that he anticipated making an appointment for the executive director, who serves as the board’s non-voting secretary, “probably around Thanksgiving.”
Robakowski was confirmed for a seat on the board in December and served as a pivotal swing vote to grant Morales a full four-year term. But the retired police officer became Morales’ most vocal critic when the board voted unanimously to demote the chief in August.
A copy of the letter can be found on Urban Milwaukee.
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- City Hall: Barrett Picks Leon Todd to Lead Fire & Police Commission - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 24th, 2020
- City Hall: Alders Want Police Chief Search Paused Following FPC Resignations - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 5th, 2020
- City Hall: Resignations Rock Fire & Police Commission - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 30th, 2020
- City Hall: Special Meeting in Police Chief Search Results in “Chaos” - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 9th, 2020
- Former FPC Chairman Steven DeVougas Headlines Newsmaker Lunch Hour - Milwaukee Press Club - Sep 3rd, 2020
- City Hall: Morales Starts Process To Sue City - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 21st, 2020
- Latinx Community Divided Over Morales’ Exit - Edgar Mendez - Aug 20th, 2020
- Milwaukee has an opportunity to usher in lasting change - Milwaukee Common Council - Aug 9th, 2020
- It’s time for the MPD and FPC to move forward - Common Council President Cavalier Johnson - Aug 7th, 2020
Read more about Fire & Police Commission's Troubles here