By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Alfonso Morales is no longer the chief of the police for the Milwaukee Police Department effective immediately. The decision was announced by the Fire and Police Commission on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 6.
The commission demoted Morales to captain. The vote which cemented his fate was unanimous as was the vote that named Michael Brunson as the current standing chief, following the department’s chain-of-command.
According to the Journal Sentinel, Morales and his attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, will be looking at his options in the coming days. The Journal Sentinel also reported that Morales will not rule out suing the city to get his job back. Morales was only at the beginning of his four-year term, with less than a year in after being reappointed by the commission in 2019.
The meeting was led by Steven DeVougas, the chairman of the board. It should be noted that Commissioner Nelson Soler, the vice chair of the board, was named as the chairman of the board.
During the meeting, DeVougas gave each of the commissioners an opportunity to speak on Morales. Soler noted that when Morales was appointed last year in December, his position came with some conditions.
According to Soler, the conditions included being accessible to the commissioners through an open-door policy, working with the community to be inclusive and being transparent with the board.
“It should be no surprise, that I personally don’t feel you have worked with us,” Soler said.
He added that Morales failed to comply to the conditions which he had accepted when he took on the position.
Commissioner Ann Wilson also took the opportunity to speak to express her disappointment over Morales’ perceived actions. Wilson called out Morales for not following through on his promises.
“To just not do what you said you wanted to do really makes me sad,” Wilson said.
Commissioner Everett Cocroft echoed Wilson’s statements.
Commissioner Raymond Robakowski also spoke.
“A series of offensive actions have occurred under the leadership of Alfonso Morales that are intolerable from any leader who holds a position of trust,” Robakowski said. “His conduct is unbecoming, filled with ethical lapses and flawed decisions.”
Morales has intentionally lied to the public, through his press conferences, YouTube videos and press releases, Robakowski said. He lied to commissioners and failed to provide the board with his COVID-19 action plan.
“As a new commissioner if I had known back in December 2019 what I know now I never would have seconded the meeting for his reappointment and I never would have cast my vote in support,” he said.
Robakowski continued, “Mr. Morales has failed the men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department, the people of the city of Milwaukee and he has misled me. And none of this is acceptable.”
Robakowski filed the motion to demote Morales.
Mayor Tom Barrett held a press conference following the meeting. Barrett noted that the previous day he had sent a letter to the commission asking for an orderly review on the directives they had issued to Morales.
Barrett was upset that the board did not follow through on this process that the it had outlined and believed that Morales should have been given an opportunity to respond to those directives.
“The discussion surrounding this decision tonight was completely lacking in transparency,” Barrett said.
Barrett said he was angry with the way things played out and that he is committed to bringing transparency back to the process.
“We need a police department that will keep us all safe, that’s what Milwaukeeans deserve,” Barrett said, later adding, “We need a Fire and Police Commission that is respected by our citizens and we need a police department that is respected by our citizens.”