MILWAUKEE - Assistant Chief Michael Brunson was sworn-in Friday, Aug. 7 as acting Milwaukee police chief.
The decision to appoint Brunson came swiftly -- the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission's vote the night before took just minutes to conclude -- after the commission voted to demote now-former Chief Alfonso Morales to the rank of captain. Brunson will be given two weeks to choose his command staff.
The possibility of disciplining Morales came after he ordered officers to use tear gas to break up protests over George Floyd’s death. It was the last straw for some FPC members who were upset over how Morales has handled incidents since the arrest of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown in 2018.
The decision to appoint Brunson may change the landscape of the Milwaukee Police Department in the long run.
"We have the full confidence his leadership to take us in a different direction and bring us some peace and much-needed stability in this city," said Griselda Aldrete, executive director of the FPC.
Brunson said Friday that he is dedicated to improving the environment in the community.
"There is a lot to do, so we all have to work together," Brunson said. "My priority is to address the violent crime in this city and to build relationships and collaborations with all entities, the community."
Much of Brunson's 25-year tenure with the Milwaukee Police Department has been in patrol. Over the years, he has also served as commander of the Internal Affairs Division, at times overseeing investigations into allegations of misconduct against police personnel. He knows first-hand about the challenges within the department -- and in the community.
"We are going to work feverishly to engage and build those relationships. we have to do that, we are together in this," said Brunson.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett support Brunson's vision, agreeing that the task ahead is not an easy one.
"Whatever our differences are we have to put them behind us and make sure he succeeds and our city succeeds and residents succeed and the police department succeeds," Barrett said.
Brunson also said that the only way we can all thrive is by having dialogue, pledging to listen and work with the community, the Milwaukee Police Association and the Milwaukee Police Supervisor's Organization to help move forward.
The Milwaukee Police Association on Friday, Aug. 7 released a statement on the FPC's decision, calling it, in part, "a tragic event."
Read the full statement from the Milwaukee Police Association below: