No Settlement Yet, Morales Will Be Police Chief Again On July 15th
Demoted police chief Alfonso Morales will return to old job.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Maybe.
The Fire & Police Commission confirmed Friday morning that demoted chief Alfonso Morales will return as permanent chief on Monday, July 12th, almost a year after he was demoted. The city failed to reach a settlement with the currently-retired chief.
But after this article was first published, Morales’ attorney said his client would be back on the job Wednesday, July 14th. Then the commission said it would be Thursday, July 15th, lining up with a commission meeting.
The moving target released Friday is indicative of settlement talks still underway between the city and former chief.
Morales, through attorney Frank Gimbel, said earlier this week that he was ready to return to his job. But the parties had already once mutually agreed to delay his return to allow for more discussion of a potential settlement. Now they’ve done it again.
As first reported by Corrinne Hess of Wisconsin Public Radio, the Common Council is hoping for a settlement. Ald. Robert Bauman said Mayor Tom Barrett is opposed to a settlement in excess of $500,000, with the mayor’s office declining further comment. The council would need to approve any settlement and could override a mayoral veto of an agreement.
Morales was unanimously demoted last August by the FPC before his deadline to respond to 11 directives issued by the commission expired. That led Morales, chief since 2018, to retire and sue the city for denying his due process rights.
His case has received help multiple times along the way. City Attorney Tearman Spencer, in a filing, agreed that Morales was denied his due process rights. Then in December, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Foley ruled in Morales’ favor and ordered him reinstated. In May, he set a 45-day timeline for that to happen. That timeline was to allow Morales to return as chief on Saturday, July 3rd before it was delayed until the 12th by the parties.
“This disgraceful conduct by the commission has created complete uncertainty and total chaos in this community,” said Foley in June. “I’m forcing the city to obey the law or buy their way out of this because of what they did.”
Four of the seven members that voted to demote Morales have now either resigned or been replaced on the commission. The Common Council rejected a new term for a fifth, Ann Wilson, after Mayor Tom Barrett reappointed her. Griselda Aldrete, the former FPC executive director, a mayoral cabinet member who also reports to the board, resigned and was replaced by Leon W. Todd, III.
The exact amount of a settlement Morales is seeking remains unclear, but the former chief filed a claim against the city for $625,000 last August. Morales also has a federal lawsuit pending against the city.
Acting chief Jeffrey Norman will return to his prior role. He was the last local candidate remaining in a national search for a new police chief, but was eliminated when the field was narrowed to three. Two of the three remaining candidates dropped out after the commission cast multiple tie votes in trying to select a new chief. Norman has tried to get a different job while serving as Milwaukee chief. He was one of three finalists to be the City of Wauwatosa‘s police chief. But last week the western suburb’s Police & Fire Commission gave the job to Norman’s former coworker, retired MPD captain James H. MacGillis.
Morales’ return will mark the first time a police chief has lived outside of the city. Morales moved to the Village of Pewaukee, according to a federal court filing.
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