Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Bree Spencer Added to Police-Fire Board

East Side resident works for national civil rights group, previously worked at Safe & Sound.

By - Apr 4th, 2022 01:50 pm
Bree Spencer. Photo provided.

Bree Spencer. Photo provided.

The Milwaukee Fire & Police Commission again has seven members, eliminating the potential of tie votes and adding a new voice to the powerful public safety oversight board.

Without any discussion, the Common Council unanimously confirmed Bree Spencer‘s appointment Tuesday morning. The move comes after the council held Spencer’s appointment two weeks ago because two council members said they wanted to have one-on-one meetings with her.

The commission is responsible for hiring, firing, discipline and policy setting for the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Fire Department. Its most recent high-profile action was the adoption of a towing policy for vehicles driven recklessly.

A resident of Milwaukee’s East Side, Spencer serves as a project manager for a national civil rights group.

Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson nominated Spencer in February. The vacancy was created following the resignation of retired firefighter Everett Cocroft, who moved to Las Vegas in late 2021.

After a unanimous recommendation by the Public Safety & Health Committee on March 10, council members Ashanti Hamilton and Chantia Lewis requested the council hold her confirmation during the council’s March 22 meeting.

“I wanted to create the opportunity to sit down with this woman,” said Hamilton. He said there was outreach, but scheduling conflicts prevented it from happening.

At Monday’s virtual meeting, neither Hamilton nor Lewis spoke when Spencer’s nomination came up. Alderman Robert Bauman made the motion to approve her nomination.

Spencer is the senior program manager for the justice team at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The nominee said she manages the agency’s policing portfolio. She previously spent nearly a decade at Milwaukee-based public safety nonprofit Safe & Sound in various leadership positions.

“I miss serving the City of Milwaukee,” she told the Public Safety & Health Committee on March 10. She said it was unfair to put the burden of public safety entirely on first responders.

“I want to be part of the improvement and the betterment of the Fire & Police Commission and how it works,” said Spencer. “More broadly, my goal is to really shift the narrative and thought process in Milwaukee around what public safety is.”

Commissioners serve in a part-time capacity, earning $6,600 per year for participating in regularly-scheduled, evening meetings. They are appointed for a five-year term.

Johnson, who faces a special election Tuesday to continue to serve as mayor, included the goal of adding two more FPC  commissioners in his public safety plan released in January. Nearly a decade ago the state expanded the commission, allowing up to nine members to serve, but former mayor Tom Barrett never nominated a full complement of members.

Many council members have pushed for all nine slots to be filled as part of stabilizing the previously beleaguered commission. Executive director Leon W. Todd, III, who was appointed after the commission’s botched 2020 demotion of Police Chief Alfonso Morales, has said he supports having nine members.

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