Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Mayor Acts To Create Full Fire & Police Commission

Johnson picks two new appointees to FPC, giving it 9 members for first time.

By - Jul 12th, 2022 12:11 pm
Gerard Washington and Ruben Burgos. Photos submitted.

Gerard Washington and Ruben Burgos. Photos submitted.

For the first time in its history, the city entity responsible for overseeing for the police and fire departments could have a full complement (under state law) of nine members.

It’s something council members have requested for several years, but former mayor Tom Barrett never achieved nor committed to. Now, new mayor and former council member, Cavalier Johnson is fulfilling a campaign pledge and appointing two members to fill the Fire & Police Commission.

In an unusual twist, one of the nominees is the current fire chief for Menomonee Falls. But that nominee, Gerard Washington, worked for the Milwaukee Fire Department for 25 years and rose to the rank of assistant chief before retiring in 2019 and taking the suburban job in 2020. According to the mayor’s office, he is a city resident.

Johnson is also nominating retired Milwaukee Police Department lieutenant Ruben Burgos. The lieutenant spent more than 30 years with the department. Burgos is the board president for the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, board member of the National Latino Peace Officers Association and senior lecturer with the UW-Milwaukee Helen Bader School of Social Welfare.

“Both Gerard and Ruben will bring an important perspective to the Fire and Police Commission with their extensive knowledge of safety in both the fire and policing fields,” said Johnson in a statement. “I thank them for their willingness to put this knowledge into practice on this Committee.”

Washington is a graduate of Upper Iowa University and holds a certificate from the U.S. Army War College. He holds a master of science management degree from Cardinal Stritch University. Burgos holds a bachelor’s degree from UW-Milwaukee and a master of science degree from Springfield College.

The nominees represent Johnson’s second and third nominations to the commission. While serving as acting mayor, he successfully appointed Bree Spencer, who was confirmed in 2022. She replaced retired firefighter Everett Cocroft, who relocated to Las Vegas.

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.

The commission is responsible for hiring, firing, discipline and policy setting for the two public safety departments. That includes a recent high-profile decision to allow Milwaukee police to tow unregistered vehicles that are pulled over for a reckless driving offense.

A full-time staff led by executive director Leon W. Todd, III works with the commission.

Only a single board member, Fred Crouther, remains from the botched demotion of police chief Alfonso Morales. The city paid approximately $600,000 in a legal settlement as a result. Crouther’s term expires in 2024.

The Wisconsin Legislature increased the maximum size of the commission to nine members about a decade ago, but Barrett never appointed a full complement of members. City officials have said it is the most complicated part-time appointment the mayor makes because of the lengthy background check required and the difficulty of finding individuals with the willingness and skillset to serve.

In addition to Crouther and Spencer, a slate of 2021 appointees form what is currently a seven-member commission: Amanda AvalosLaNelle RameyJoan Kessler, chair Edward Fallone and Dana World-Patterson.

Categories: City Hall, Politics, Weekly

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