Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

FPC Restarting Police Chief Search

Jeffrey Norman remains a favorite among some city officials.

By - Aug 11th, 2021 04:57 pm
MPD Assistant Chief Jeffrey Norman. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

MPD Assistant Chief Jeffrey Norman. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A search for a new, permanent Milwaukee Police Chief could start as early as next month.

The Fire & Police Commission voted unanimously Tuesday evening to terminate the 2020 search process. It closes a tumultuous affair that followed the August 2020 demotion of then-chief Alfonso Morales. While a lawsuit from Morales was pending, the commission publicly fought over the process, one member called another a dictator and resigned, the chair and vice chair sat out private interviews and ultimately the board, then composed of six members, deadlocked four times on picking a new chief from the three finalists. Morales and the city received a $627,000 settlement last month.

The majority of the commission had no role in the prior search, nor the botched Morales demotion. Four of the seven members are new, as is the executive director who serves as the board’s non-voting secretary.

“In my opinion, it would be better for the new commissioners to participate from the beginning,” said commission chair Edward Fallone, a Marquette University Law School professor and one of the new commissioners.

“I hope we can proceed expeditiously because I think getting some certainty for the community on this is very important,” said Joan Kessler, one of the four new members.

But while the old process is officially over, a new process could be at least a month away. The commission isn’t scheduled to meet again until September 2. The commission could use that meeting to formally define the terms and launch a new search.

That gives still more time for acting chief Jeffrey Norman to use his post as an on-the-job trial. He’s already gained the backing of Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council President Cavalier Johnson. Norman was the last remaining local finalist in the prior search, but was eliminated when the field was narrowed from six to three. He became acting chief in December after Morales’ replacement, Michael Brunson, retired. Brunson did not pursue the permanent post.

Norman, who was a finalist to be the Wauwatosa chief in June, is still interested in the job said FPC executive director Leon W. Todd, III.

What happened to the finalists from the last search? Dallas Police Department major Malik Aziz was appointed chief of the Prince George’s County Police Department in March. Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Chris Davis became chief of the Green Bay Police Department in July. FBI Special Agent in Charge Hoyt Mahaley, who tied repeatedly with Aziz in Milwaukee, has not received a chief position.

The makeup of the commission could change again depending on when the search process starts. Commissioner Ann Wilson remains on the board despite having an expired term and the Common Council rejecting her reappointment earlier this year. In late June, the mayor’s chief of staff Jodie Tabak said Barrett spoke with a potential replacement on June 19th, but no replacement appointment has been made. Under state law the commission is allowed to have up to nine members, but has never had more than seven.

One thought on “City Hall: FPC Restarting Police Chief Search”

  1. pschley says:

    I have always found Jeffrey Norman to be professional, friendly, and community-minded. Here’s hoping they make the wise decision to retain him.

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