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HomeBreaking NewsTom Barrett Names Public Defender Head of Fire & Police Commission

Tom Barrett Names Public Defender Head of Fire & Police Commission


Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has chosen a public defender – Leon Todd – to run the city’s Fire and Police Commission. Barrett praised Todd’s “remarkable qualifications.”

What are those remarkable qualifications? Leon Todd has worked as a public defender since 2014.

In a press release dated on Nov. 24, Barrett revealed he had named Todd as the commission’s Executive Director.

Leon Todd is “currently a member of the Board of the Directors for the Wisconsin Justice Initiative and Legal Action of Wisconsin, as well as a member of the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers,” says the release.

What is the Wisconsin Justice Initiative? Its website says its mission “is to advocate for progressive change in the Wisconsin justice system.” Among its priorities? Ensuring that municipal judges consider poverty when determining sentences, legalizing marijuana, and the state’s eliminating felony bail jumping charge. Among other things, the group “Played a key role in organizing 18 cannabis legalization advisory referendums in Wisconsin.”

“The role of the Fire and Police Commission (FPC) Executive Director is to provide leadership, guidance, and coordination in public safety matters as a member of the Mayor’s cabinet and as chief administrator of the functions performed by the citizen Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. The FPC Executive Director is responsible for all policy, financial, operational and strategic matters of the Fire and Police Commission,” Barrett’s news release says.

“Leon Todd is an ideal candidate to lead the Fire and Police Commission because of his remarkable qualifications and his track record of dedicated service to all,” said Barrett. “I believe that he will bring the leadership necessary to oversee the Commission in an equitable and just manner.”

Todd has been assigned to the public defender’s office’s appellate division. In particular, he “has argued numerous cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, represented clients who are incarcerated throughout the state.”

Before that he was a staff attorney for Legal Action of Wisconsin.

He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin.

The Common Council must confirm the appointment.

Jessica McBride
Jessica's opinions on this website and all WRN and personal social media pages, including Facebook and X, represent her own opinions and not those of the institution where she works. Jessica McBride, a Wisconsin Right Now contributor, is a national award-winning journalist and journalism educator with more than 25 years in journalism. Jessica McBride’s journalism career started at the Waukesha Freeman newspaper in 1993, covering City Hall. She was an investigative, crime, and general assignment reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a decade. Since 2004, she has taught journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her work has appeared in many news outlets, including (where she is a contributor reaching millions of readers per month),, WTMJ, WISN, WUWM,,, Milwaukee Magazine, Nightline, El Conquistador Latino Newspaper, Japanese and German television, Channel 58, Reader’s Digest, Twist (magazine), Wisconsin Public Radio, BBC, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, and others. 

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