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'We need to open that conversation to everyone:' Chief Morales says he wants community to be part of 'defunding the police' conversation

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Chief Alfonso Morales says he wants the community to be part of the conversation about what defunding the police could mean. 

"We’re a city of 600,000 and often times we can see the same faces on camera that say we’re going to make these decisions. There’s a lot of smart people, there’s a lot of people that get impacted by police services, and I think we need to open that conversation to everyone," Morales said. 

Morales wrote an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Tuesday where he detailed what defunding the police department's budget by 10% might look like. 

"We must have real discussions of what 'defunding the police' means. If it means abandoning the concept of law enforcement, that is a nonstarter. If that means conducting a laser-focused, deep dive into the responsibilities of policing and the consequences of reallocating resources, count me in," Morales wrote. 

Milwaukee's Common Council last month unanimously approved a proposal asking the city's budget director to include a 10 percent cut for the Milwaukee Police Department in a model budget. 

"When we’re talking about defunding the police, and removing resources, let’s have a conversation and use our research partners to help us moving through this," Morales told CBS 58. 

Morales wrote that police cannot and should not be the first responder for all social ills. 

"Being a Milwaukee Police Department officer in 2020 means being a part-time therapist, drug addiction counselor, landlord-tenant arbitrator, homelessness advocate, private security guard, traffic controller, parking attendant, family counselor and animal control officer. We need to admit that we are all open to change. 

This means we need to have conversations -- real conversations. Not arguments. Not insults. Not hyperbolic rhetoric. And we need o have those conversations result in thoughtful and impactful actions. We cannot merely strip away duties without a comprehensive plan for who can and will address the issues. These social issues will not disappear because they are taken off the police call sheet. These organizations must be funded, staffed, and prepared to embark on this new vision as partners."

Morales says they want the community to be involved in the conversation. The department created a new email to receive community input: TalktoMPD@Milwaukee.gov.


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