FPC nominee says she's prepared to cast tie-breaking vote for new Milwaukee police chief

NOW: FPC nominee says she’s prepared to cast tie-breaking vote for new Milwaukee police chief

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee community is getting the chance to hear from appointees to the city's Fire and Police Commission, or FPC.

They participated in a virtual meeting on Saturday, Dec. 12, during which the public could ask questions. The meeting comes at a crucial time as the commission remains deadlocked on picking a new police chief.

Mayor Tom Barrett nominated Leon Todd as executive director, reappointed Ann Wilson as commissioner and appointed Amanda Avalos as the FPC's seventh commissioner. All three participated in the virtual meeting Saturday.

The current FPC has voted on a new police chief twice with the same result: three votes for Dallas Police Major Malik Aziz and three for FBI Supervisory Special Agent Hoyt Mahaley.

"By having a seventh commissioner, obviously that will allow us not to have that type of deadlock again," Barrett said Saturday.

Avalos, who could be confirmed to the FPC as soon as this week, could be the potential tie-breaker on the vote for the new police chief.

"The role of a police officer and firefighter in the community is something that should be continuously evolving," Avalos said.

Avalos answered questions about her background as a community organizer and how she will prepare to be the tie-breaker vote if needed.

"If appointed, obviously that would be one of the main priorities coming in," Avalos said. "I would take that process very seriously and again, I would take into account all the information possible. What's readily available but also seeking what is not available yet."

Avalos said she plans to look at the candidates' resumes, listen to their interviews and discuss their qualifications with members of the commission. She said she wants to know whether they want to shift the culture at the Milwaukee Police Department and in which direction they would shift it.

"I want to hear their vision for what public safety means for the city. I want to hear ... their philosophy on that from where they came from, what worked well for them from that experience, what feedback they received back there and how they are responding to that feedback," she explained.

Wilson cast a vote for Mahaley but said it has not been easy for the commission to choose a chief because both candidates are qualified.

"This is very difficult. When you say 'the community,' all the community are not together, and I have been trying to go over: What do you do when part of the community wants one and part wants the other?" Wilson said.

Todd said he has not been involved in the process, but the new chief will have his work cut out for him tackling the city’s violent crime.

"We're at an all-time high now in 2020 now for the number of homicides in Milwaukee, and that's something that has to be the top priority for the next police chief," Todd said.

Todd said a PFC new executive director and new police chief provides new opportunities for the city.

"When we're looking at setting policies for policing, we have to of course consider public safety and officer safety. Those are absolutely critical considerations. They're essential. But we also have to consider racial justice and racial equity," Todd said.

The appointees were asked about transparency of the commission, their visions for the city, a recent internal investigation into a figurine found hanging at a Milwaukee fire station, the candidates for Milwaukee police chief, tackling violent crime and many other issues.

"I believe that we really should hold everybody accountable whether it's the police department, fire department, FPC or anyone else who has anything to do with the safety of this city," Wilson said.

Wilson said the commission is often privileged with information it cannot share with the public.

"Often times people will say, 'Well, they aren’t doing anything, and they aren’t saying anything,' but there are times when we can't. But I am committed to making sure that any police officer that doesn’t do what they’re supposed to do (is) disciplined," Wilson said.

She also said she strongly believes the city needs to get back to community-oriented policing.

"There is a need for more ways for us to look at: Why is there road rage? And why are young people stealing cars and driving fast up and down the streets?" she said.

Acting Police Chief Michael Brunson’s term ends in less than two weeks.

The FPC is scheduled to meet again on Jan. 7 to consider the new police chief.

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