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Judge To Reinstate Ousted Milwaukee Police Chief In 45 Days

Nuccio DiNuzzo
Getty Images
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales speaks to the media following a shooting at the Molson Coors Brewing Co. campus on Feb. 26, 2020 in Milwaukee.

Updated Thursday at 1:15 p.m. CDT

A judge said Wednesday that he will reinstate ousted Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales to his post in 45 days unless Morales' attorneys and the city settle their legal fight over his job.

“If you can't get it settled within the 45 days, then my order goes into effect,” Milwaukee County Judge Christopher Foley said at the end of a 30-minute hearing, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. “Put him back in office, make him the chief and away we go.”

The city's police commission demoted Morales to captain in August following turmoil over racial justice protests and complaints of distrust within the Milwaukee Police Department.

The former chief’s attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, has said Morales’ relationship with the commission had been deteriorating since he refused the chairman’s demand to fire an officer involved in the arrest of then Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown in January 2018.

More recently, the commission criticized Morales for authorizing tear gas to disperse protesters. The commission also raised questions over how the department has policed Black communities.

Morales joined the Milwaukee department in 1993 and was appointed chief in February 2018.

Morales chose to retire and sued for damages. Foley reversed the commission's decision in December but didn't issue further instructions. One of Morales' attorneys, Raymond Dall'Osto, said that Morales is serious about wanting to return as chief.

"Chief Morales, first of all, never wanted to be removed as police chief back in early August 2020," Dall'Osto told WUWM. "When Judge Foley in mid-December of 2020 ruled that the actions of the Fire and Police Commission in removing him as chief were, number one, illegal, under both state statues and contrary to his contractual rights and rights to due process that are guaranteed by both statue and state and federal constitutions, we reached out to the legal representatives of the city and asked at that point in time, 'Can we have the chief come back?'"

Morales' attorneys have accused the city of dragging its feet on settlement negotiations and for failing to abide by Foley's order. While Morales wants his old job back, Dall'Osto said a settlement is still on the table but that any settlement would need to adequately make up for the damages he said Morales has faced.

"He's been treated unfairly and I hope that if there is a settlement and discussions towards that, and that those will be reasonable, and will take into account actual loses," he said.

City attorneys have argued that Morales' retirement following his demotion prevented his reinstatement as chief.

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