Ousted Milwaukee Police Chief Expected To Return To Job Next Week

Milwaukee Alder Says Settlement Talks Are Ongoing

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales
Former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales. Milwaukee Police Department

Ousted Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales is expected to return to his job Thursday after a day of conflicting reports that first had him returning Monday.

Early Friday, Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission issued a statement saying Morales would be back at his post Monday. The former chief has been fighting to get his job back since he was demoted by the commission in August following months of turmoil amid police brutality protests and years of community distrust of police officers. Shortly after being demoted, Morales retired.

“The Milwaukee Police Department is managing significant internal and external challenges. The Fire and Police Commission is committed to working with Mr. Morales and the community to address these challenges and increase both safety and justice in Milwaukee,” the commission said in a statement issued Friday morning.

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But Alder Robert Bauman said talks are still ongoing between Morales’ attorneys and Common Council President Cavalier Johnson and Alder Ashanti Hamilton who have been authorized by the council to settle for an undisclosed amount.

“There’s still a glimmer of hope that those conversations will bear fruit as we speak,” Bauman said.

Throughout the day Friday there were conflicting reports of when Morales would return to work next week. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he’ll be back Thursday, when the commission meets. Morales’ attorneys would not return multiple phone calls or email requests for comment.

If Morales’ attorneys and the Common Council come to a settlement, Morales would remain retired, instead of reclaiming his position as chief.

But Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett doesn’t want the city to settle with Morales for more than $500,000, Bauman said. And any settlement agreement would have to be approved by the Common Council and could be vetoed by Barrett.

Barrett’s office declined to comment further, citing confidentiality.

“We view internal discussions about any legal settlements to be confidential. We don’t have anything to add beyond the Fire and Police Commission statement,” they said in a statement.

If Morales returns, acting Police Chief Jeffrey Norman will likely return to his former position as assistant chief. But Morales would have the authority to reassign him.

In April, Morales’ attorneys filed an affidavit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court demanding the former chief be reinstated. They argued the city wasn’t following a December court decision by not returning Morales to his post as chief. The last contract Morales signed with the city runs through January 2024.

On May 19, Milwaukee County Judge Christopher Foley agreed, ruling Morales must be reinstated within 45 days.

At the time, Morales’ attorney said the former chief was “ready, willing and able” to have his job back and was not looking for a monetary settlement.

Morales has also filed a federal lawsuit against the city alleging his civil rights were violated when he was demoted.

Bauman said if Morales returns, it will be up to the former chief to decide if it goes smoothly for the city and the Milwaukee Police Department.

“If he is returning with a sense of vengeance and he wants to wreak havoc to recoup his lost status, it could be very damaging,” Bauman said. “Or does he come back with a constructive attitude, realizing that there is a somewhat different prospective on policing and does he embrace that mindset of reform?”