Fire and Police Commission pauses search for Milwaukee's next police chief

NOW: Fire and Police Commission pauses search for Milwaukee’s next police chief

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The decision of who will be Milwaukee’s next police chief is now being put on hold by the city’s Fire and Police Commission. The commission narrowed it down to two finalists, but two attempts in December to vote on who will be the next chief both ended in a 3 to 3 tie.

During Thursday’s meeting, the FPC said they will not be moving forward with a decision on the next police chief until they have a formal opinion by the city attorney.

FPC Chair Nelson Soler says since September, the city attorney has told him to continue with the process of finding a new police chief, but Soler says he can no longer rely on verbal advice.

This board cannot continue to rely on verbal advice provided behind closed doors as in politics people’s memories are short and loyalties are situational,” he added.  

Until guidance from the city attorney formally comes in writing or the claim by former police chief Alfonso Morales is resolved, Soler wants to halt the decision. Commissioners agreed, commenting on the pressure they feel each week.

“Since that advice has not been provided in writing, I feel it’s imprudent for this board to continue with this process,” Soler said.

“We’re putting in almost 20 to 30 hours some weeks and we’re part time, and it’s all because we love this city,” added Commissioner Everett Cocroft.

The decision to pause comes after Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson urged the FPC to wait on picking a new chief on Monday.

Former acting police chief Michael Brunson retired last month, and former assistant chief Jeffrey Norman took over the role on Dec. 23. Norman was originally in the running for the police chief position.

In a statement Monday, Johnson said in part:

“The FPC has a chance to start the New Year off on the right foot by pressing pause on the selection process for a new chief and allowing the current chief to exercise his ability in the post.”

The two finalists for the next police chief are FBI Special Agent Hoyt Mahaley and Dallas Police Major Malik Aziz. Aziz could not be reached for comment after Thursday’s FPC meeting and Mahaley says he’s waiting on FPC guidance moving forward.

On Thursday, the FPC also welcomed their new executive director, Leon Todd.

“I will make sure that members of this commission have complete, accurate and timely information and advice—and that I’m always available to you,” said Todd.

In December, a common council committee voted to move a seventh commissioner forward, Amanda Avalos. If the common council approves, she could be the one to cast the tie-breaking vote.

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