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Selection Of Milwaukee's Next Police Chief On Hold

Commission Chair Nelson Soler said the lack of clear direction on the police chief search is just one of a number of challenges the panel faces.

After Thursday night’s Fire and Police Commission meeting, the city of Milwaukee still doesn’t have a new police chief. The panel deadlocked in two previous votes on who’ll replace former Chief Alfonso Morales.

On Thursday, commission Chair Nelson Soler said commissioners would not take a vote. Instead, he read a statement: "Since September 2020, we have received verbal advice from the city attorney’s office that we can proceed with the search and screening selection of a new chief. ... Since that advice has not been provided in writing, I feel it is imprudent for this board to continue with this process."

The commission chief said the legal challenge brought by Morales, who was demoted, adds to uncertainty.

READ: Milwaukee Police Chief Demoted Over Tear-Gas Use, Other Concerns

Soler said the lack of clear direction on the police chief search is just one of a number of challenges the panel faces — due to a lack of support from city government.

He said the commission, whose members are civilians, rely on city departments, including the city attorney’s office for sound, consistent and timely advice. Soler said it hasn’t materialized in the last 18 months.

On top of that, Soler pointed to high turnover within the Fire and Police Commission’s (FPC) administrative office.

“It is important to remind the public that in the last four years, this board has worked with six different FPC executive directors — three of them were permanently assigned and three were temporary,” he said.

WUWM reached out to the city attorney for reaction to Soler’s comments on the need for more direction and support, but no one was immediately available.

WUWM also contacted Common Council President Cavalier Johnson. He referred to his January 4 statementsuggesting the FPC pause in the police selection process and allow the Acting Chief Jeffrey Norman to exercise his ability in the post.

Susan is WUWM's environmental reporter.
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