Judge Restores Alfonso Morales As Police Chief
Milwaukee has at least two police chiefs at the moment.
Alfonso Morales is Milwaukee’s police chief again.
Friday, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Foley restored Morales to the position from which he was demoted in August. Foley ruled that Morales wasn’t given due process by the Fire & Police Commission. The body gave Morales 11 directives in July, then voted unanimously to demote him a couple weeks later. Morales elected to retire and sued the city.
But what happens next remains to be seen.
“It is clear this entire process was flawed,” wrote Foley. He acknowledged that the ruling could set up a situation of two chiefs.
“But that is a potential dilemma of the Commission’s own making and wholly ignores the detrimental impact of the fundamentally flawed process on the interests of Mr. Morales,” wrote the judge.
The decision isn’t a complete surprise. City Attorney Tearman Spencer, the commission’s attorney, admitted to the court that Morales was denied his due process rights. The filing asked for the case to be sent back for Morales to be subject to a disciplinary trial before the commission.
The ruling is just the latest twist in a cascading series of events for the commission.
Morales was given a four-year term as chief on December 18th, 2019 shortly after the council approved the appointment of Commissioner Raymond Robakowski. The commissioner, a former police officer, praised Morales. By July he had become Morales’ biggest critic
The commission, via then lame-duck executive director Griselda Aldrete, read the directives into the record in July, but didn’t produce a paper copy until over 24 hours later. Morales was then demoted before the timelines on all of the directives had expired.
The search process for a new chief resulted in Robakowski calling another commissioner a “dictator” and resigning, leaving the commission with six members. Two members sat out the process to narrow the field of candidates from six to three. And with three candidates, the commission has met twice and deadlocked on four consecutive votes to pick a new permanent chief.
The council was poised to confirm a new commissioner, Amanda Avalos, but Aldrete resigned alongside Robakowski and her interim replacement, Kyle Mirehouse, ordered the wrong ordinance-required background check for Avalos. The commission planned to vote again on January 7th, but the council isn’t scheduled to meet until almost two weeks later.
At this moment in time, Morales is the chief, Brunson is the outgoing acting chief, Norman is the incoming acting chief and both Hoyt Mahaley and Malik Aziz have received votes to serve as the permanent chief.
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Read more about Fire & Police Commission's Troubles here