MILWAUKEE - A judge on Friday, Dec. 18 reversed the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission's (FPC) decision to demote former Police Chief Alfonso Morales, who later resigned from the Milwaukee Police Department.
Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Foley reversed the decision Friday, but court documents did not make any other directives immediately clear regarding its impact on the police department or the FPC.
Morales announced his resignation in August after being demoted to the rank of captain earlier that same month.
The possibility of the FPC disciplining Morales came after he ordered officers to use tear gas to break up protests over George Floyd’s death. Those actions marked the last straw for some FPC members who were upset over how Morales has handled incidents since the 2018 arrest of former Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown.
Attorney Frank Gimbel, Alfonso Morales
Morales' attorney, Frank Gimbel, in October filed a brief arguing that his client was denied due process. In November, as a legal battle over Morales' job played out, a city attorney filed a legal document in court that agreed the former chief was demoted without a fair hearing from the FPC.
Gimbel told FOX6 News on Friday that he isn't sure Morales wants to return to the department.
"What are they willing to do to make him go away?" Gimbel said. "I need to have a conversation on his behalf with the city attorney to work out the mechanics of his returning to the job, unless they say we want to talk about an alternative route and that route would be to have some kind of financial settlement to leave quietly."
Malik Aziz, Hoyt Mahaley
Since Morales' demotion and subsequent resignation, the FPC has moved forward with a search for Milwaukee's next police chief.
In back-to-back votes on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10, the six-member commission voted in a tie for two finalists -- Dallas Police Major Malik Aziz and FBI Special Agent Hoyt Mahaley.
On Dec. 17, it was announced that Jeffrey Norman would take over as the department's acting chief -- filling the role of retiring Acting Chief Michael Brunson, who took over upon Morales' demotion.
Though Norman is in line to take over next week, Gimbel said Morales can legally take the reins instead.
"He has a contract with the city now to be chief until January of 2024," said Gimbel. "If they want to pay out that contract, the chief may be inclined to consider, thoughtfully, whether he wants to come back or take a hike."
Milwaukee Police Department (MPD)
Inside City Hall, there are new calls for changes to the FPC, which has been understaffed -- down to six members -- following a series of three departures from the commission in October.
"The only way I see it fixed is, OK, we cut our losses with Morales, we pay him $700,000 dollars, he rides off into the sunset. We have an acting chief in place. We clear the deck of the Fire and Police Commission. I mean clear the deck," said Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman. "Mr. Mayor, fire every single one of them."
The alderman's office contacted FOX6 on Saturday to clarify Bauman's remarks. Though he still believes the entire FPC should be replaced, he noted that the mayor cannot wholly remove all of its members -- the process is more involved that that.
In a statement to FOX6 News, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's office said: "We will continue to consult with the City Attorney's Office regarding this matter."