Milwaukee Police Chief Morales is a Disappointment; Your comments are welcome

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales has been a disappointment, in the view not only of Voces de la Frontera but also a number of its allies.

The letter reprinted below, addressed to the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, expresses Voces’ opinion regarding his lack of meaningful contact with community organizations and his failure of leadership regarding police violence.

We want to hear comments from our members who live in the City of Milwaukee. They will in turn be relayed to the Fire and Police Commission. To write your take on Chief Morales, please go to:

“TO the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission:

“Voces de la Frontera, in collaboration with the Hmong American Women’s Association and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, is writing to express our disappointment with the failed leadership of Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales. Our hope that his leadership would represent a shift from the previous administration and would show greater sensitivity to the needs of people of color, immigrants, refugees and disenfranchised, has been quickly dashed.

“This was most clear in his abject failure to engage meaningfully with community organizations during the revision of the Standard Operating Procedure on racial profiling and immigration, and comments such as “policy does not build community trust.”  He disregarded our repeated request to create a joint committee of law enforcement and community to present a policy that we could agree upon.  Good community policing policies are critical to building trust and making structural change to challenge institutionalized  racism,  excessive use of force, and investing  our resources in activities that heal the community and make people feel safer.

“Most recently during this pandemic, we saw the failure of Chief Morales to engage Voces as a critical organization in the community.  Voces reached out to him to invite him or a representative to be part of Facebook live to address fears the community had.  The first Facebook live following the emergency order had 15,000 participants and questions about police interactions surfaced as a concern. While this request was late, he has no proactive plan to engage the community and disregards the organizations that should be seen as an asset instead of the enemy.  During the south side listening session organized by the Fire and Police Commission after his reappointment, his tone and message to community advocates’ questions was dismissive. In the north side listening session people shared their feelings that he was dismissive of their input and that he left early.  The Chief is defensive and reactive, rather than listening and partnering with key community organizations.

“Most recently there have been incidents of police violence, such as the death of Joel Acevedo and  Chief Morales’ failure  to use his authority to fire Officer Mattioli  after Mattioli was investigated and charged with homicide. In addition, we have witnessed escalation of violence on peaceful protesters exercising their constitutional rights to condemn police violence and racial injustice.  The use of the National Guard only serves to send a message of oppression rather than protection and recognition of injustice that people across the country are reacting to.  

“If Chief Morales chooses to continue to disregard a meaningful engagement with community organizations and principled accountability with police officers who abuse their power and lead to harm and death, then the City of Milwaukee will continue to spend millions of limited resources on civil rights violation lawsuits and we will have made no progress in building a city where all families  thrive.