Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Milwaukee Police Chief a Finalist For Wauwatosa Job

Potential move to smaller city a sign of issues in Milwaukee.

By - Jun 3rd, 2021 05:41 pm
MPD Assistant Chief Jeffrey Norman. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

MPD Assistant Chief Jeffrey Norman. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Police chiefs usually seek to land jobs with bigger cities, seeking a higher profile and better pay. But the issues surrounding the top job at the Milwaukee Police Department have Acting Chief Jeffrey Norman looking to move to a smaller city.

Norman, who has been the chief in Milwaukee since late December, is one of three finalists to be the next Wauwatosa police chief. It’s just the latest twist in a complicated saga set off by the Fire & Police Commission’s demotion of former Chief Alfonso Morales last August.

Norman, who has been with MPD for 25 years, wanted to be Milwaukee’s permanent chief and was the last internal candidate remaining for the job. But when the field was narrowed from six to three, he was eliminated. Then one of the seven commission members resigned and the remaining members deadlocked repeatedly on who to select. In the midst of the tie votes, acting chief Michael Brunson retired and Norman was promoted to acting chief.

The tie votes and changeover caused members of the Common Council, including President Cavalier Johnson, to call for the search to be paused and Norman’s time as acting chief to be used as an on-the-job trial.

Morales’ lawsuit against the city meanwhile has progressed. Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Foley ruled in December that the commission violated Morales’ due process rights, effectively creating a scenario where Milwaukee had multiple police chiefs while settlement talks were on-going. Then on May 19th, Foley ruled that Morales gets his job back in 45 days if no settlement is reached. Morales, who had retired after being demoted, has said he would take the position back.

Norman is a finalist for the Wauwatosa job alongside two familiar faces. MPD Captain David Salazar and retired MPD Captain and current High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program Drug Intelligence Officer James H. MacGillis are also in the running.

If Norman doesn’t get the Wauwatosa job, he could end up back in the running for chief in Milwaukee.

After hearing that Norman was a candidate for chief of the Wauwatosa Police Department, Johnson released a statement saying “it would be tragic and a mistake for our city to lose such a talented and dedicated individual to a municipality that is literally across the street… This decision seems like an easy one – Jeffrey Norman should become permanent chief.”

Depending on how things go with Morales, the commission could end up having to restart the chief search, potentially producing an entirely different result. Since demoting Morales, two of the seven members of the Fire & Police Commission resigned as well as the executive director. Two of the five remaining members didn’t vote in the narrowing process that eliminated Norman, and one new member, Amanda Avalos, wasn’t on the commission at the time. Further complicating things, one of the two finalists receiving votes, Malik Aziz, accepted a new job as a police chief in Maryland.

Norman has received positive reviews of his performance to date, both from council members and Fire & Police Commission Chair Nelson Soler, one of the two members that didn’t take part in the vote that eliminated Norman from the search.

The next Wauwatosa police chief will replace Barry Weber who retired this spring after 31 years with the department. Luke Vetter is serving as interim chief.

Wauwatosa’s Police & Fire Commission intends to hold public interviews with each candidate on June 14th.

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Categories: Public Safety, Weekly

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