We Need to Talk

The following is an excellent op-ed by Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales. It’s what every chief of police should be saying and enabling. Worth a read!

Milwaukee Chief of Police Alfonso Morales

“My name is Alfonso Morales. Most people call me Al. I was born and raised in Milwaukee. I am a proud second generation Mexican-American. I have a beautiful wife and two amazing children. I am proud to be your chief of police. Our officers are also members of the community, have families, care about police-community relations and, like everyone else, want to go home safely to their loved ones at the end of their shift.

“I have heard the outcries of racial injustice. Generational wounds of oppression, racism and disenfranchisement have been reopened by examples of totally unacceptable and completely illegal police brutality. These are real emotions and reactions that cannot be understated.

“The byproduct of the past few weeks is great division and further discord. It has turned into an ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality. That must change. We are in this together. It must simply be… Us.

“I, too, am disgusted and outraged by the actions of those Minneapolis police officers. And I, too, demand improvements to law enforcement, including MPD. But that does not mean you cannot also support your local law enforcement agency and the men and women in blue who risk their lives every day to keep your community safer. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

“We must have real discussions of what ‘defunding the police’ means. If it means abandoning the concept of law enforcement, that is a nonstarter. If that means conducting a laser-focused, deep dive into the responsibilities of policing and the consequences of reallocating resources, count me in.

“Police cannot and should not be the first responder for all social ills. Being a Milwaukee Police Department officer in 2020 means being a part-time therapist, drug addiction counselor, landlord-tenant arbitrator, homelessness advocate, private security guard, traffic controller, parking attendant, family counselor and animal control officer. We need to admit that we are all open to change.

“This means we need to have conversations — real conversations. Not arguments. Not insults. Not hyperbolic rhetoric. And we need to have those conversations result in thoughtful and impactful actions. We cannot merely strip away responsibilities from the police without a comprehensive plan for who can and will address the issues. These social issues will not disappear because they are taken off the police call sheet. Those organizations must be funded, staffed and prepared to embark on this new vision as partners.

“We also need to know what defunding MPD looks like. Our Common Council has suggested a 10% cut. It’s approximately $30 million, which would roughly equate to up to 375 officers in addition to the 60 officers cut last year. That would be a 25% reduction in police officers in Milwaukee in just two years.

“How would that defunding occur? And what does it mean to reinvest into ‘social services?’  Exactly which social services? Currently, the Milwaukee Police Department responds to more than 700 calls a day. Will that organization respond to a call at 2 a.m.? How about on a weekend?

“If implemented for the 2021 budget, will there be a comprehensive plan by Jan. 1, 2021? The calls will be coming. Who will be there to respond?

Let us have a conversation.

“I understand budget cuts and I understand investing in our community. However, I do not understand how defunding improves the underlying issues of social injustices and police brutality or increases diversity in MPD.

“Let me be clear: I do not take pleasure in reducing any of our services. And I do not suggest these changes lightly. But Milwaukee, you deserve an honest conversation to understand the real repercussions of defunding so I want you to know what that might look like:

[The Chief outlined a number of services that the department could no longer provide under the cuts proposed by the city council. Read the full article HERE.]

Despite these difficult times, I have never been more proud to be your police chief, a minority and a lifelong Milwaukeean. Most importantly, I am proud of this city and the future we can shape together.

“The Milwaukee Police Department is listening. I am listening. Please share your thoughts through a new email I created to hear from you: TalktoMPD@Milwaukee.gov.

“Join us in the discussion.”

5 Comments

  1. Nonsense. Cops cover each others’ assess, which is to say cops inflict, harass, defame and kiill and then lie about it to cover up for their gang. You really buying ‘in this together’ shit? The call for defunding comes from the people and communities cops fuck over the worst. A second imperative of cops is to keep the money, helathcare and other benefits such a generous pension flowing. How many pieces has Morales penned in support of the many victims of harassment, defamation, killing and bogus citations cops love to hand out? Why do Milwaukee cops act like people are enemies? Why are you giving this piece of shit a platform?

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    1. As a matter of fact, Michael, I do buy into what I have said and I happen to have some experience in doing it. But you do highlight the work we (together) have ahead of us. I also am willing to consider that you may be right.

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    2. I agreed with you. It is about time we start to re-fund the mental health care services, social services, schools. Ever since Nixon use the war on crime to attack civil right movements, the police have been soaking up more and more resources and money and what have we gotten out of the whole thing? Nothing. It is like the American military at the end of the Cold War. We should have been scaling back the military and use the money to re-invest in our communities. It is also about time to go after the wealthy people and business leaders of America for all the crimes they have committed against the nation, their workers, and the rest of the world. We wouldn’t be having so much street crime if they had been held accountable for the last 40 years.

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      1. If I remember correctly, we had problems with our guy Saddam Hussein who we had used as a bulwark against Iran after the fall of the Shah and he decided to follow his own course which we didn’t like so we use the invasion of Kuwait and the 9/11 attack to go after him That war and the war on terrorism ate up our post-Cold War money plus sending the jobs overseas meant no money for the government at the city, county, stated, and federal governments plus all the tax breaks for the corporations and wealthy people.

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