Milwaukee committee votes in favor of having common council power to fire police chief

NOW: Milwaukee committee votes in favor of having common council power to fire police chief

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Some aldermen believe the common council should have the power to fire Milwaukee’s police chief.

By a vote of 3-2, a committee supported a resolution that would give the council the authority to fire the chief with a two-thirds majority.

Right now under state law, only the Fire and Police Commission has the power to fire the Chief and only with probable cause.

Their resolution, if approved, would still have to be presented by a state legislator to change the law.

Mayor Tom Barrett opposes the change, saying it undermines the authority of the Fire and Police Commission.

During the Judiciary and Legislative Committee Meeting, some of the resolution's sponsors of the resolution gave specific examples of times the Police Department or Police Chief Flynn did not listen to the concerns of constituents. 

"I'm not even getting lip service anymore," said Alderman Mark Borkowski, the committee chair. "I'll give you a simple example and it was almost embarrassing and it was somewhat insulting. Last week at Public Safety [Committee], we had a group from Sherman Park that came before our committee and talked about all the situations as far as speeding and that kind of stuff... the police admin started out with their canned speech about, 'We had 'x' number of rapes. We have 'x' number of --' it had nothing to do with speeding... the point is is that there's no sense of urgency."

Alderman Borkowski is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Alderman Robert Bauman is also a cosponsor. He believes there's little chance the resolution will become state law, but backs it because he is frustrated with a lack accountability.

"He knows full well that we can't tell him how to run his office and that we have no power over his hiring or his firing," said Alderman Bauman.

For Bauman, the issue revolves around the MPD pursuit policy... and he says the intent isn't necessarily to remove Chief Flynn, but to make sure is being held accountable. 

"We're kind of tearing our hair out. How do we get this individual's attention? Our constituents are very angry, very upset, very concerned about this issue and many issues," said Bauman.

Two aldermen voted against the resolution. Alderman Witkowski says the proposal would bring politics back into policing, and no chief would want the position knowing they'd have to make 15 alderpersons happy.

Alderman Cavalier Johnson is the committee vice-chair. He agrees the police need more accountability, but he voted no.

"My fear is that on any given day you can have 10 members of the council who are upset with the chief on any given day. And on any given day a vote could happen where a chief could be removed," said Alderman Johnson.


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