‘Open, honest and fair:’ On eve of interim police chief announcement, residents weigh in during forum

MPD chief forum at Wisconsin Black Historical Society

MILWAUKEE -- Three finalists for the position of interim Milwaukee police chief will be announced Thursday, Feb. 1 -- with Chief Ed Flynn's retirement set to take effect on Feb. 16. On Wednesday, Jan. 31, members of the public were able to weigh in and share their thoughts on the individual who will take over permanently. More than 100 came out to share their opinions as to the qualifications that person should possess. Overwhelmingly, residents said they want transparency and accountability.

It was a packed room Wednesday evening at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society, a fitting backdrop as something truly historic is about to take place.

Czerda Riley was one of those who voiced her opinion on the city's next police chief. She said her big issue is transparency.

Czerda Riley

"Crime -- less crime, c'mon with this less crime. Why does it take so long for the families to know what's going on?" Rice said.

Ed Flynn announces retirement as chief of Milwaukee Police Department

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn

The event was hosted by the Community Coalition for Quality Policing and the Local Initiative Support Corporation. A panel made up of former and current officers, the police union president and one member of the Fire and Police Commission listened to what the community thinks are important qualifications for the next chief.

"I'm looking for someone who is open and honest, fair -- and puts the community first," a forum participant said.

Chief Flynn announced his retirement on Jan. 8, 10 years and one day after Flynn was sworn in as chief, and after 47 years in law enforcement.

 

While the Fire and Police Commission embarks on a nationwide search for a permanent chief, an interim chief chosen from the pool of three internal candidates will fill the role. The three finalists for the interim position will be named Thursday.

Milwaukee Police Department

Fred Royal

"Police-community relations is the civil rights issue of this century," Fred Royal, NAACP Milwaukee president said.

A questionnaire was passed around Wednesday, and residents were asked to rank their top 10 priorities in the next chief -- things like representing the African-American population, dealing with mental health issues in the city and response time to 911 calls.

"I also think it's important that they be open to constructive criticism," Donsia Strong Hill, Local Initiative Support Corporation executive director.

Ultimately, it will be up to the Fire and Police Commission to make this hire. The interim chief candidates will be the subjects of the next public forum on Feb. 8 -- but the FPC expects a nationwide search for a permanent chief.