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Suspend Search? Milwaukee Aldermen Want Acting Chief Jeffrey Norman to Lead MPD

Chief Jeffrey Norman

Even though a judge on Friday gave Morales his job back as chief.

Who is going to be Milwaukee’s new police chief? That’s never been in greater flux. But now multiple aldermen are urging the Fire and Police Commission to suspend the search for a new chief altogether to give new Acting Chief Jeffrey Norman a chance to lead.

That’s despite the fact that Norman was a candidate for the new chief’s job in the first place but didn’t make the final cut.

They want Norman – not former Chief Alfonso Morales – to have a chance to run the department, even though a judge on Friday gave Morales his job back as chief by reversing his demotion to captain. The wrinkle is that Morales has already retired, and it’s unclear whether he would try to come back. The judge, Christopher Foley, didn’t provide any directions for what’s supposed to happen next, either, although it appears the Commission would have to start over to demote Morales. Complicating matters even further, the acting chief, Michael Brunson, is retiring.

Norman is an assistant chief in charge of the department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau. He also has a law degree.

The Commission voiced its support for Norman as acting chief before the Morales decision came down. Meanwhile, the Commission deadlocked 3-3 in selecting the news chief, tying between FBI agent Hoyt Mahaley and Dallas Deputy Chief Malik Aziz. Tom Barrett’s nominee Amanda Avalos would break the tie, but she has drawn controversy because she supports abolishing the Police Department altogether.

Keeping all of that straight?

Aldermen sent out a flurry of press releases on Saturday Dec. 19 in response to the Morales’ decision. They seem to be consolidating around the idea of suspending the police chief search process to allow Norman a chance to essentially try out for the permanent gig. As for Morales? They seem to think the city will reach a settlement with him, not restore him to the top post.

Ald. Michael Murphy issued a statement praising Norman.

“Earlier today my colleague Alderman Bauman called on the FPC to pause their selection of a new police chief and allow Jeffrey Norman an extended opportunity to audition for the role of permanent chief. I concur with the sentiments of Alderman Bauman and am also asking the FPC to afford the soon-to-be acting chief a chance to show how he would perform in the role long term,” wrote Murphy.

In his press release, Ald. Robert Bauman said that the FPC should “pause the chief selection process, keep Norman in the acting chief position for 6 or 9 months to see how he performs, and then determine if he deserves appointment as permanent chief.”

He slammed the three finalists for chief, saying that one was pursuing the Madison police chief job, one was pursuing the Dallas police chief’s job and the third has “minimal supervisory experience.”

“I want to begin by joining with my colleagues Alderman Michael Murphy, Alderman Robert Bauman, and Alderwoman Chantia Lewis who have praised the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners for its appointment of Jeffrey Norman as acting chief of the Milwaukee Police Department. He has earned the trust of many on the Council and in the community,” wrote Ald. Ashanti Hamilton. “Frankly, I was surprised he was not selected as one of the finalists for the position, but I am glad he has been chosen for this role and he is willing to serve.”

He added: “Acting Chief Norman’s 24 years of experience on the force and his skill as a manager and a police officer give the board and the City an opportunity that should not be lost. We all heard last night that former Chief Morales was reinstated to his position by a judge. No one yet seems to know what this means, but it will likely be some time before a settlement of the matter can be reached.”

He then suggested:  “As some of my colleagues have said, the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners should immediately pause its process for the recruitment of a new chief. Let Acting Chief Norman run the department. He is more than able. Let the Office of the City Attorney work to settle matters with the former chief. And, please, let the board take a moment to think about how it is that we all got here and what can be done to try and prevent it from ever happening again.”

Another alderwoman agreed.

“The move by the Fire and Police Commission on Thursday to name Assistant Chief Jeffrey Norman as the next acting chief of the Milwaukee Police Department (effective December 23rd) has my full and enthusiastic support,” wrote Ald. Chantia Lewis.

“Appointed Acting Chief Norman has been a bright light on MPD’s Command Staff for many years, and when he was part of the initial group of chief candidates I was pleased to see him there, and he was my pick from the beginning.”

She added: “I share the same views of support that have already been expressed (yesterday) for appointed Acting Chief Norman by my colleagues, Alderman Bob Bauman and Alderman Michael Murphy. I also believe that it makes sense to end the current police chief hiring process and allow Acting Chief Norman to demonstrate over a set period of time if he is up to the task of leading the department. I believe he has the leadership skills and the experience to do just that.”

She said she believed that the Morales’ matter will “ultimately be settled in court.” She said that Norman ” has worked as an attorney and lives in Milwaukee, and knows the community well. He’s served as a dedicated officer and as a commander, with the community in mind.”

Who is Acting Chief Jeffrey Norman?

According to his bio, “Assistant Chief Norman was appointed to the Milwaukee Police Department in 1996.  As an officer, Assistant Chief Norman served in District 1, District 2, and the Technical Communications Division until his promotion to detective in 2002.  As a detective, he served in the Robbery Division, Violent Crimes Division and Homicide Division until his promotion to lieutenant in 2010.  As a lieutenant, he served in the Property Crimes Division, Metropolitan Division (Robbery Task Force, Homicide Unit and Cold Case Unit) and District 5 as the dayshift commander. Promoted to captain in 2017, he commanded the Inspections Division and District 3.  In 2020 he was promoted to Assistant Chief.”

The bio continues, “Assistant Chief Norman is the current executive commander of the Criminal Investigation Bureau.” His bio continues, “Assistant Chief Norman holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Masters of Public Administration degree from Kaplan University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Marquette University Law School. Assistant Chief Norman is a graduate of the FBI LEEDA’s Executive and Command Institutes, Southern Police Institute’s Chief Executive Leadership, International Associations of Chiefs of Police’s Leadership in Police Organizations and 68th Session of the Police Executive Research Forum-Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP) in Boston, MA.”



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