Jeramey Jannene

Morales Named Fitchburg Police Chief

Former Milwaukee chief will lead suburban Madison department.

By - Sep 29th, 2021 10:07 am
Police Chief Alfonso Morales speaks at a press conference on the DNC. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Police Chief Alfonso Morales speaks at a press conference on the DNC. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Former Milwaukee police chief Alfonso Morales is back on the beat.

Morales was hired Monday evening to lead the Fitchburg Police Department. The Dane County community is a suburb of Madison with a population of approximately 30,000.

The city’s Fire & Police Commission cast a 3-2 vote to hire Morales. He beat out Salt Lake City police captain Vic Siebeneck.

“The Commission is looking forward to the future, working with Chief Morales, to continue to provide community-involved policing and law enforcement that respects the value of all individuals in our community,” said the Fitchburg commission in a statement.

The Milwaukee Fire & Police Commission unanimously demoted Morales in August 2020, before a timeline for him to respond to 11 directives expired. Morales, who then retired, successfully sued the city on the basis that his due process rights were violated. He had a four-year contract to serve as chief until January 2024.

Earlier this summer, after a judge ordered his reinstatement, Morales agreed to a $627,000 settlement with the city. He also will receive his monthly pension of approximately $8,500.

Circuit Court Judge Christopher Foley laid the blame for the issue squarely at the feet of the Fire & Police Commission. “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.”

Morales, who joined the Milwaukee Police Department in 1993, was originally promoted to fill out the term of retired police chief Edward A. Flynn in 2018.

Morales faced controversy following an evidence leak in a sexual assault investigation involving an FPC commissioner just before the then-acting chief was given a four-year term in December 2019. Further controversy arose from the department’s response, including a false claim of a Molotov cocktail thrown at officers, to the summer 2020 protests that occurred following the killing of George Floyd. The issue came to a head at the six-month performance review for Morales in July 2020 when the directives were issued without public debate.

Since Morales’ lawsuit was filed, the majority of the Fire & Police Commission members have been replaced. Mayor Tom Barrett‘s chief of staff pledged a replacement for Ann Wilson in June, after the council rejected her reappointment, but no replacement appointment has been made. The only other members not replaced have terms that have yet to expire.

Acting police chief Jeffrey Norman is the lone candidate invited to apply to be Milwaukee’s permanent police chief.

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