Committee Backs Johnson’s FPC Nominees
Council committee endorses two "immensely qualified" candidates to finally fill Fire & Police Commission.
The Fire & Police Commission (FPC) could soon have nine members, its authorized maximum, for the first time in its existence.
Johnson is nominating retired MPD lieutenant Ruben Burgos and retired MFD Assistant Chief Gerard Washington to serve on the commission. 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.
Both of the nominees are lifelong Milwaukee residents. “I know my city and I want to help [MPD] move forward,” Burgos said.
“I have a love for this city. I hear, I see, I have an understanding of the challenges,” Washington said.
And despite being formally retired from Milwaukee’s public safety departments (Burgos after 33 years and Washington 27) both are still remarkably active. Washington is now the fire chief in Menomonee Falls. Burgos is a lecturer at UW-Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, board president of the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, board member of the National Latino Peace Officers Association and head of security of Mexican Fiesta.
Alderman Scott Spiker, while praising Washington’s work, asked how he thought he could have enough time for the role.
“It is all about time management at this level,” said the fire chief, who retired with the rank of assistant chief in Milwaukee. “This isn’t something I haven’t been preparing for my entire professional career.” While detailing how he doesn’t believe in out-of-office messages and recently took a call about the FPC job while on vacation, Washington said the love and support of his family was paramount to his success. “I think if they saw me sitting still too long they would be concerned.”
Both candidates discussed the need for a discipline matrix to be used to guide public safety personnel.
“I have had to do disciplinary actions on people that work for me,” said Burgos. He said he also was subject to a number as a young officer. “I learned from that.”
The former MPD assistant chief also received a letter of recommendation from a vice president with GovHR. Washington said he works with the organization to help hire fire chiefs in other cities.
Ald. Mark Borkowski said he was happy to see nominees with experience as police officers and firefighters. He said it would help with making sure discipline was appropriate. “I’m not saying [officers and firefighters] didn’t get a fair shake before, but I’m feeling a lot more comfortable because you can empathize with them,” said the alderman.
Spiker said anyone that meets with Washington would leave impressed. He praised Burgos for being open about the potential for civilianizing certain law enforcement jobs and asked for an open line of communication to be maintained about different ideas.
The committee unanimously recommended the full council approve both nominees. The next council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 20.
Washington and Burgos are the second and third nominations Johnson has made 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.
The Wisconsin Legislature increased the maximum size of the commission to nine members about a decade ago, but Tom Barrett never appointed a full complement of members. The pace at which Barrett nominated people drew repeated criticism from Common Council members. Administration 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 Avalos, LaNelle Ramey, Joan Kessler, chair Edward Fallone and Dana World-Patterson.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.
- City Hall: Johnson Names Former Deputy City Attorney To Fire & Police Commission - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 2nd, 2022
- City Hall: Washington, Burgos Join Fire-Police Board - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 20th, 2022
- City Hall: Kessler Resigns From Fire-Police Board - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 19th, 2022
- City Hall: Committee Backs Johnson’s FPC Nominees - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 9th, 2022
- City Hall: Mayor Acts To Create Full Fire & Police Commission - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 12th, 2022
- City Hall: Bree Spencer Named To Fire & Police Commission - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 9th, 2022
- FPC Suspends Residency Preference For Police, Fire Promotions - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 7th, 2021
- City Hall: Committee Endorses Dana World-Patterson’s Appointment To FPC - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 2nd, 2021
- City Hall: Dana World-Patterson Nominated to FPC - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 9th, 2021
- City Hall: Jeffrey Norman Named Permanent Chief of Police - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 4th, 2021
Read more about Fire & Police Commission's Troubles here