August 12, 2015

A coalition of Milwaukee Community Groups sent the following letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett today, asking him to nominate two additional, qualified members to the city's Fire and Police Commission.


August 12, 2015


Mayor Tom Barrett
City Hall, Room 201
200 East Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Dear Mayor Barrett, 

Recently the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (FPC) reappointed Chief of Police Edward Flynn.  Now you have appointed Assistant City Attorney MaryNell Regan to become the next executive director of the FPC.  As Mr. Curley told the Journal Sentinel (January 21, 2015), it is now an appropriate time to follow through on your intention to appoint two additional members to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. 

Our groups believe that the FPC has much work to do to help improve public safety and police community relations.  The Milwaukee FPC has the authority to provide the robust oversight of the departments that the Legislature and Common Council intended when they adopted strong statutes and ordinances laying out the relationship between the departments and the FPC.

The FPC needs the human resources required to carry out its function.  Two additional commissioners would help the FPC do its job by providing not only skills and experience to the Board, but also by reassuring all parts of our community that the FPC is fair, impartial, diverse and independent.  We urge you to undertake a transparent recruitment process for additional commissioners that provides opportunities for public input early in the process.  We ask that your office acknowledge individuals who have self-nominated using the city’s website.  We’d anticipate that when you appoint additional commissioners the Common Council will carefully consider their confirmation. 

Our groups have urged you since before Commission Wilson’s appointment to look for diverse individuals who exhibit the following characteristics:

  1. Are under 35 years old, and/or have knowledge about the issues young people are facing. 
  2. Represent targeted populations that have high degrees of police contact.
  3. The ability to analyze data and think critically.
  4. The ability to ask difficult questions of authority figures. 
  5. The ability to advocate for the community regarding police issues in the City of Milwaukee, and work with diverse constituencies (i.e., the Milwaukee Police Department, Fire & Police Commission, other elected officials, and the community) in an oversight role.
  6. The ability to make policy and procedural recommendations.
  7. The ability to develop and utilize outreach strategies to obtain input regarding Milwaukee Police Department policy and procedures and their impact on the community.

We recognize your responsibility to appoint excellent commissioners.  You and your appointees are responsible, after all, for public safety and police community relations.  Let us repeat, we believe that given the history of the past several years there is still much to do to improve public safety and police community relations.   We believe the FPC needs commissioners who have the energy, commitment, and independence to let the Board better fulfill its important oversight role.


Thank you for your consideration. 

ACLU of Wisconsin, Chris Ahmuty
African American Roundtable, Mike Wilder
Angela Walker
Black Health Coalition, Pat McManus
Martin Luther King Justice Coalition, George Martin
MICAH, Rev. Willie Brisco
MLK Justice Coalition, Brian & Melissa Verdin
NAACP Milwaukee Branch, Fred Royal
Nicole Robinson
The Coalition for Justice, Nate Hamilton
Urban Underground, Sharlen Moore
Wisconsin Jobs Now, Jennifer Epps-Addison
Wisconsin Voices, Alexis Anderson-Reed


cc: President Murphy, Chairperson Witkowski

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