Over Union’s Objection, Milwaukee’s Police Chief Unanimously Reappointed

MILWAUKEE, WI – In a unanimous decision, the city’s Fire and Police Commission reappointed Milwaukee police Chief Edward Flynn to a third four-year term Thursday.

The reappointment process has been criticized for a lack of transparency, which commission chairwoman Sarah Morgan addressed with a prepared statement, saying the commission hears public comment at every meeting and commissioners are civilians who represent a cross-section of Milwaukee.

All six people, including Ald. Joe Davis, who spoke about Flynn’s reappointment during public comment — which came after the board already voted on his contract — said more discussion was needed.

Mary Watkins described the commission’s actions as “wrong.”

“At the very least the public should have had input in this,” she said. “This should not have happened the way it did.”

The Milwaukee Police Association, which represents about 1,600 department members, gave the commission an eight-page letter detailing its opposition to Flynn’s reappointment, said the group’s president, Mike Crivello.

“I didn’t receive a call from any one of you to discuss that letter,” he said, adding, “I, too, am very disappointed that you don’t in open session allow for a hearing so the public can express their concerns.”

Sister Rose Stietz, a member of Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope and the police accountability board, said it’s been difficult to get information from Flynn and the commission.

“I don’t know where the breakdown is coming, but obviously we are not being represented in the people who are being appointed,” she said of the commission.

Flynn, 67, was first hired in 2008, and last year drew a salary of about $157,000. His contract was set to expire in January. In 2011, he became the first chief to have his contract renewed since Harold Breier, who left in 1984 after 20 years. Before that, chiefs were appointed for life.

Flynn thanked the commission for the “vote of confidence” and acknowledged the challenges ahead.

“I’m happy that three of the lowest homicide totals in a quarter of a century have been achieved during my tenure, but I’m unhappy that we’re having a record-setting pace right now,” Flynn said. “Obviously we’ve got to get a hold of this violence.”

After the meeting, Flynn told reporters he faced public scrutiny and comment every day as police chief. When asked about Crivello’s comments, Flynn said, “I came here to serve the community, not to serve the interests of the police union.”

From The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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