Jeramey Jannene

Commission Ties Again on Picking Milwaukee’s Next Police Chief

Mahaley or Aziz? Commission still can't decide.

By - Dec 10th, 2020 06:27 pm
Malik Aziz, Chris Davis and Hoyt Mahaley. Images from the Dallas Police Department, Portland Police Bureau and FBI.

Malik Aziz, Chris Davis and Hoyt Mahaley. Images from the Dallas Police Department, Portland Police Bureau and FBI.

It happened again. The Fire & Police Commission deadlocked on a 3-3 vote on who should serve as Milwaukee’s next police chief.

After two rounds of voting Thursday evening, the commission ended up split 3-3 on whether to pick Malik Aziz or Hoyt Mahaley. It was an identical process to one that played out last week.

Mahaley, an FBI Supervisory Special Agent, is a graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools and previously worked for the Milwaukee Police Department. Aziz is a major within the Dallas Police Department.

“I think the struggle I am having with the appointment, on one hand, is a good one,” said Commissioner Ann Wilson. “We have had three outstanding candidates, the challenging part is we can only appoint one.” But she’s still backing Mahaley.

“Not being from Milwaukee doesn’t mean that you don’t align yourself with the community and don’t have the community’s interests at heart,” said Commissioner Angela McKenzie. She’s backing Aziz and said he brings a fresh set of eyes.

The deadlock comes after the commission narrowed the field to three candidates in closed session in October and then held two public town hall meetings in November. Amidst a string of controversial meetings to ratify the chief selection process, Commissioner Raymond Robakowski resigned setting up a potential tie.

Mahaley drew support from Fred CroutherSteven M. DeVougas and Wilson. Aziz drew support from Everett Cocroft, McKenzie and board chair Nelson Soler.

“The commission’s split speaks to the quality of both candidates,” said DeVougas.

A tie-breaker could be on the way. Mayor Tom Barrett has nominated Amanda Avalos to serve as a new member of the commission. He’s also reappointed Wilson. A public meeting is scheduled for both candidates on Saturday. The Common Council will hold confirmation hearings for both on Monday morning and could cast final votes on each next week. Either adding Avalos or rejecting Wilson’s reappointment would effectively break the tie. Council members have expressed skepticism with the idea of appointing Avalos and creating a situation where a new member, the commission’s youngest at 30, would be tasked with essentially picking the next chief.

“I want us to do this together, because neither one of these candidates can change Milwaukee without the rest of us,” said Wilson.

The body does have a deadline looming. Acting Chief Michael Brunson is slated to retire on December 23rd. It could appoint another acting chief. The vacancy was created when the commission demoted then-chief Alfonso Morales in August.

The commission could run into another issue – losing a candidate. Aziz emerged as a finalist for the top job in Dallas this week. He’s been a finalist in other cities before.

A third candidate Chris Davis, Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief, drew no votes from the commission. Davis has emerged as a finalist for the Madison police chief opening.

For more on the candidates and the stalemate, see our coverage from last week.

The commission will meet again on January 7th to consider the selection.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us