Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Amanda Avalos Named to Fire & Police Commission

Community organizer and policing critic named by Barrett to embattled oversight board.

By - Dec 1st, 2020 01:48 pm
Amanda Avalos. Photo provided.

Amanda Avalos. Photo provided.

The city’s Fire & Police Commission (FPC) is set to receive a new member.

Mayor Tom Barrett nominated Amanda Avalos for a five-year term on the city’s public safety oversight body. Avalos serves as senior civic engagement director for Leaders Igniting Transformation.

Her appointment is subject to Common Council approval and the body has rejected multiple Barrett FPC appointees in recent years, but council members recently have clamored for Barrett to fill the board to its legal limit of nine members. Avalos would be the seventh.

She is scheduled to appear before the council’s Public Safety & Health Committee on December 8th. The public can leave comments in advance of the meeting using the council’s e-comment function.

LIT seeks to organize young people of color to build political power for social, racial and economic justice. The organization was a leading proponent of an unsuccessful bid to get the Common Council to cut and reallocate 25% (approximately $75 million) from the Milwaukee Police Department budget. It was successful in getting Milwaukee Public Schools to end a contract with the police department.

Avalos would replace Raymond Robakowski who unexpectedly resigned amidst the controversial search for a new police chief. Robakowski, a former police officer, was appointed in December 2019 and provided the necessary vote to advance a four-year term for Police Chief Alfonso Morales. Then he became Morales’ most outspoken critic when the commission demoted the chief in August. Avalos previously said the commission should have fired, not demoted, Morales.

Avalos has served as vice chair of the city’s Safety and Civic Commission since its formation in 2017. That commission provides recommendations and public education related to public safety and well being, which can often involve the police department.

Joining the part-time FPC board will give her direct control. The Fire & Police Commission provides oversight of policies, hiring, firing and discipline for the police and fire departments. It does not set the budget for either department.

The timing of her appointment is unlikely to give her a vote on who the next police chief will be given that the commission is slated to pick a finalist this week, but the commission will soon be tasked with hiring a new fire chief. Barrett has nominated Leon Todd to serve as the body’s executive director, a non-voting member who guides the full-time staff and serves as secretary to the board.

According to a resume provided to the city, Avalos earned a bachelor of arts degree in social welfare and justice from Marquette University in 2013. She has an in-progress master’s degree in public health from UW-Milwaukee. She’s held a number of community organizing jobs and spent almost a year with the Milwaukee Health Department through the Public Allies program. Avalos, 30, would be the youngest member of the commission.

Avalos’ and Todd’s appointments aren’t the only moves that Barrett is making. He’s also fixing another FPC issue.

Commissioner Ann Wilson has served with an expired term since 2018. Barrett has previously said she agreed to stay on until a replacement was found. Now she’s being appointed for another five-year term. Wilson works for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee.

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