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Judge Gives Demoted Milwaukee PD Chief His Job Back After City Removed Him Over Riot Response

Milwaukee, WI – A judge gave former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales his job back on Friday, one day after the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (FPC) selected a new acting chief.

Attorneys for the city of Milwaukee admitted in late November that former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales didn’t get due process before he was demoted in August over his handling of riots.

“The City respectfully requests this Court remand the matter of Morales’s August 6, 2020 demotion to the Board for further proceedings to ensure Morales receives a full hearing consistent with the basic concepts of due process and fair play and statutory prescriptions alike,” Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer wrote in a brief filed on Nov. 16, according to WISN.

On Dec. 18, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Christopher Foley reversed the FPC’s demotion to captain of former Chief Morales, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

However, although Foley reversed the commissioner’s demotion of Chief Morales, he didn’t explain how to rectify the situation.

The judge said he was prevented from giving further instructions by the FPC’s failures, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“I acknowledge that from the City’s perspective there is great benefit in remand with directions,” Foley wrote. “Remand continues the status quo as of the conclusion of the Commission hearing with Mr. Morales demoted to captain and appealing that demotion. It avoids the potential, noted in media accounts, of ‘two chiefs.’”

“But that is a potential dilemma of the Commission’s own making and wholly ignores the detrimental impact of the fundamentally flawed process on the interests of Mr. Morales,” the judge continued. “This record does not and cannot justify remand.”

Franklyn Gimbel, attorney for former Chief Morales, said his client was thrilled and said they would explore how to carry out the judge’s ruling, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“I was not surprised by the decision. I expected to win. I was surprised by the kind of brevity of the conclusion,” Gimbel said.

He said they would discuss next steps with city leadership, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Former Chief Morales, who was chief of the Milwaukee Police Department for three-and-a-half years, had been at odds with the FPC since the commission chair demanded that he fire the officer who arrested Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown in 2018, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

The city recently settled with Brown for $750,000 dollars.

In August, FPC commissioners took exception to the Milwaukee Police Department’s use of teargas to disperse rioters.

At the same time, the commissioners began asking questions about allegations of racism in the policing of the city’s black communities, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

“His conduct is unbecoming, filled with ethical lapses and flawed decisions, making it inconsistent with someone who has the privilege of leading the Milwaukee Police Department,” FPC Commissioner Raymond Robakowski said.

The commissioners named Milwaukee Assistant Police Chief Michael J. Brunson Sr. to step in as acting chief, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

The move by the FPC came as the city was struggling with how to provide security for the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

More than 100 Wisconsin police departments had pulled out of agreements to help provide security for the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee after the FPC ordered then-Chief Morales to discontinue the use of tear gas and pepper spray for crowd control, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

On Dec. 17, the FPC chose Jeffrey Norman to become the next acting chief of the Milwaukee police because Acting Chief Brunson is retiring on Wednesday.

Norman had applied to be the next top cop but wasn’t selected, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The FPC has been stymied by a tie vote over who to make the next chief of police and will vote again on Jan. 7.

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Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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