Jeramey Jannene

FPC Suspends Residency Preference For Police, Fire Promotions

Move comes after public safety unions filed lawsuit challenging this.

By - Dec 7th, 2021 05:38 pm
A Milwaukee Police Department officer enters a report into a laptop after a traffic stop. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A Milwaukee Police Department officer enters a report into a laptop after a traffic stop. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee has taken a step backward on incentivizing residency for its police officers and firefighters. The move comes after a lawsuit was filed by public safety unions.

The Fire & Police Commission voted unanimously Thursday to reverse a policy it adopted in January that would have granted a residency bonus when applying for promotions in either the Milwaukee Fire Department (MPD) or Milwaukee Police Department (MFD).

It’s just the latest twist in a saga that started in 2013 when Republicans, at the request of the unions, unilaterally stripped Milwaukee of its bargained residency requirement and set off a mass exodus of MPD and MFD members. As of July, only 44.7% of MPD members and 45.8% of MFD members live in Milwaukee, while 79.1% of general city workers live in the city.

After botching the policy’s adoption repeatedly in 2019, the commission adopted a residency preference point system in January that would give additional points for city residency. Promotions are given from ranked eligibility lists ordered by results from a written exam, oral exam, career review and seniority.

But in November the Milwaukee Police Association, Milwaukee Police Supervisors’ Association and Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association sued to stop the policy. The majority of each of their members now live outside of the city.

After meeting in closed session Thursday to discuss “litigation in which the Fire and Police Commission is and/or is likely to become involved,” commission chair Edward Fallone said the FPC was voting to affirm that the policy would not go into place.

“No change in status quo is intended or will result,” said Fallone. No other member spoke on the change.

A majority of the current board never actually voted for the residency preference policy. Only two current members, Fred Crouther and Ann Wilson, were on the board when it was adopted.

A five-point residency bonus remains in place for entry-level hiring. Existing policies award three points to military veterans and an additional three points to those with applicable degrees.

The City of Milwaukee maintains a residency incentive for its general workers by offering an automatic pay increase of 3% for city residents.

Cocroft Resigns

Commissioner Everett Cocroft, the FPC vice chair, resigned from the commission on Nov. 20. He moved to Las Vegas with his family.

The public champion of the residency incentive, Cocroft was not in attendance at Thursday’s meeting.

He told Urban Milwaukee via phone that he was looking to “start a new chapter.”

Cocroft worked for the Milwaukee Fire Department from 1980 to 2012, retiring with the rank of lieutenant. He later worked briefly as a part-time background investigator for the Milwaukee Police Department in 2018.

Mayor Tom Barrett nominated Cocroft to serve on the commission in June 2018 and the council confirmed his appointment that November. In January 2019 he was sworn in and his term was scheduled to expire in 2024.

Cocroft’s resignation leaves only two members, Crouther and Wilson, as holdovers from FPC’s controversial decision to demote former police chief Alfonso Morales. Wilson is slated to be replaced as early as this month by pending appointee Dana World-Patterson. Crouther’s term expires in 2024.

Cocroft served as president of the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters, an association of Black firefighters, from 2011 to 2015.

A Barrett spokesperson noted that the nomination of a replacement to the FPC is one of the most complicated appointments the mayor makes because of the background check process and may not happen if he is confirmed to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg this month.

3 thoughts on “FPC Suspends Residency Preference For Police, Fire Promotions”

  1. NieWiederKrieg says:

    When you think about it, Milwaukee’s police force is probably stealing more money from the citizens of Milwaukee than the people they’ve been arresting… and you can lump Milwaukee’s fire fighters in the same category as the cops…

    Milwaukee senior citizens live in poverty because all of their money pays for the lucrative salaries, benefits, and pensions of cops and firemen who hate the City of Milwaukee and live in Waukesha, Washington, and Ozaukee counties…

    When the cops steal all the money from the poor, poor people commit crime in order to survive…

    If I was Mayor of Milwaukee, I would privatize the city’s police and fire protection services starting right now.

  2. Jhenry1131 says:

    This is sad. If you don’t want to live here, you are not going to care enough to help make the City better or protect it. We need to first get rid of the FPC!!!

  3. CraigR says:

    The police and fire unions are screwing the city big time. They support politicians that have squeezed the city’s budget and then they look to gain a bigger share of what’s left. Living in the city, I want libraries, clean maintained streets, urban forestry, as well as a host of other services. Now that they can leave town, they don’t care about anything but their own wallets. They were happy to let Walker bash other public employees as he bought their support. I wish the FPC would have stood up to them on this minor effort to reward their employees that choose to stay in the city.

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