MILWAUKEE -- Friday, March 16 marks the one month anniversary of the swearing-in of Interim Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales. He is a Milwaukee native who has wasted little time making the changes he felt were necessary at the department.
Morales became a Milwaukee police officer 25 years ago, but video of him in front of cameras during that time is rare. That is just the way he wanted it.
Even though he is now running the show, Morales has no interest in more air time. That he will happily delegate elsewhere.
"When you just see the chief on TV, explaining everything, then it becomes the story about the chief, and I really want to push upon the Milwaukee Police Department -- I want to show the leadership we have here," Morales said.
Morales is the second youngest of 10 kids in his family. He is happier blending into the background -- stressing team success over personal glory. That comes from his days as a high school athlete at Bradley Tech -- and the teaching of coaches who persuaded him to go to college.
"I would not be here were it not for coaches and people who mentored me, and I tell people I'm the product of a number of different influences," Morales said.
But do not confuse Morales' shunning of the spotlight with a desire to keep the status quo. Just one month in, Morales has significantly changed how police officers do their jobs -- wanting officers to work a small area each shift and not run from crisis to crisis.
"When you move officers around, they lose the community-oriented part of policing. That's knowing the neighborhood, knowing the families, knowing who's a threat and who isn't," Morales said.
This past weekend during standoff with a suspect, Morales picked the brains of those officers he is now leading.
"I went up to one of our SWAT team sergeants -- and I said, 'how's it going?' And one guy tried to give me the generic answer -- and I said, 'Don't B.S. me. Tell me what's going on.' I want to hear that and when people feel their voice is being heard and that they're part of the team; they're going to take ownership of it," Morales said.
Internally, Morales wants to change the culture of the department using a term you do not often hear police work -- fun.
FOX6's Ted Perry: How do you make a job where you deal with crisis fun?
Interim Chief Morales: You make it fun by first, the team concept. Everybody is a part. Bring in ownership, where you have a voice.
It will take a team effort to beat the biggest obstacle facing Milwaukee's law enforcement -- the heroin and opioid epidemic and its devastating ripple effect.
While Morales is willing to put other officers out to take credit for success, his is the face you will see at the department's worst moments.
"In the next couple of months, there may be things that reflect negatively on us. We're going to own those problems. We're going to own them. Just ask the public to give us a chance to correct it," Morales said.
Morales has not forgotten those men who mentored him; the men who mentored him and guided him to college. Once a year he takes those men and their wives to dinner as a way to say thanks.
Morales would like to drop the "interim" from his job title, but the Fire and Police Commission would have to be the ones to do that. For now, they are not even sure how long the "interim" term will last -- and when the search for a permanent chief will begin.