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‘Taking cops off of the desk:’ Interim MPD chief vows 100 more officers in neighborhoods by summer

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BAY VIEW -- He promised he would be a better listener than his predecessor, and on Monday night, Feb. 26, Interim Police Chief Alfonso Morales answered questions from the public about crime in Bay View. He arrived late, and left before the meeting ended.

Interim MPD Chief Alfonso Morales

Some in Bay View said they're on edge after a string of high-profile crimes. In the Bay View High School auditorium, questions were asked about vehicle break-ins, stabbings and robberies. The public safety forum was held by Alderman Tony Zielinski, who is running for mayor. It was a first opportunity for many to meet Interim Chief Morales. He was appointed by the Fire and Police Commission on Feb. 15. While answering questions, he also made promises.

"We've done away with squad areas for the last 10 years, and I'm hoping to bring them back for these reasons," said Morales.

Morales said he has a plan to get more officers back on patrol in districts throughout the city. He vowed 100 more officers will be in neighborhoods by this summer.

Alderman Tony Zielinski

"What the new chief is doing is, he's taking cops off of the desk, replacing them with civilians and putting the cops on the street," Zielinski said.

Morales ducked out of Monday's meeting early, answering only a few questions. The district's police captain and Zielinski fielded the rest, with many raising concerns about a rise in car break-ins.

"We have a buddy who owns an Audi Q5 and it's been broken into five times in the past year," said Ruth Madsen.

Police said seven people are in custody after incidents two weekends ago. A double stabbing near Morgan Park last week is still being investigated, but police said the perpetrators of all of these crimes are coming to Bay View from other parts of the city.

Ruth Madsen

"Form a neighborhood watch, and we do increase the police patrols and as the captain said, these crimes are being committed by people outside of the area here," Zielinski said.

Madsen, who has lived in Bay View for six months, said that's not enough to make her feel safe.

"If I hear 'form a neighborhood watch group' one more time... " Madsen said.

A spokesman for the Milwaukee Police Department explained Morales had another meeting he needed to get to. The interim chief did not take any questions from the media.

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