Milwaukee police chief hiring; Norman fields community questions

Acting Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman faced tough questions from city residents Saturday morning, Oct. 23.

As he moves forward in the process of becoming Milwaukee's permanent top cop, Saturday's community meeting was more of an airing of grievances about the police department and Fire and Police Commission (FPC).

One could call it a very public interview – with a room full of tough critics. One woman told Norman she called police to report a crime in her neighborhood and could not get a response. 

"I call 911 – literally am treated with disrespect," Sheila, who did not want to provide her last name, said. "Who do I complain to?"

Saturday was the first of three community meetings hosted by the FPC. Norman came face to face with the people he is tasked to protect as the hopeful next leader of MPD.

The concerns raised and questions asked were as diverse as the crowd; city leaders, lifelong residents and community activists all filled the seats.

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Milwaukee FPC community meeting with Acting Police Chief Jeffrey Norman

Tomas Clasen with the ACLU of Wisconsin asked about racial profiling.

"The data shows in the last CGI report, Black Milwaukee residents are stopped 10 times as much for stop and frisks as our white counterparts, and that number is three times for Hispanic residents," Clasen said.

Others put the FPC's feet to the wire. Resident Marty Wall wanted to know what the point of the meeting was so far along in the chief selection process.

"I just feel like, to have some competition sitting at the table today answering questions would have been very valuable to the citizens," said Wall. "I think it's disrespectful to have the citizens come and ask questions after the FPC has chosen the police chief."

Norman maintained a position: He can't do it alone.

"I'm working with the community, and I'm very engaged," Norman said. "I want to be able to be with our community, but I also want our community to be with us in our efforts."

The FPC will meet on Nov. 4 to formally vote on whether to approve Norman as permanent chief. Before that happens, two more community meetings will take place.

Upcoming FPC community meetings

The FPC's next two community meetings will be held:

  • Thursday, Oct. 28, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., a virtual meeting
  • Saturday, Oct. 30, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., 224 West Bruce Street, Milwaukee, WI

Residents will have an opportunity to submit comments or questions for Norman during the registration process or state them directly during the meetings. 

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Residents who are unable to attend any of the meetings may submit comments to the FPC Commissioners on this topic by emailing them to fpc@milwaukee.gov

To attend and participate in the community meetings, please register via the following links:

Masks will be required for all attendees at the in-person meeting.

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