Former Police Chief Alfonso Morales spoke with WTMJ’s Jeff Wagner as part of WTMJ 2021’s Public Safety hour.
“I am doing well,” he said. “I’m taking some time off. I enjoy the fall season. I do a lot of outdoor activities. We did sell our home and we’re looking forward to our next chapter in our family.”
“You’re going to have a hard time hiring diversity. When you have episodes like we’ve seen in 2020, why would any minority want to take a job in urban policing when police are taking the beating that they are?
“Police have a large following of military reservists. Military is very similar to law enforcement. When they are done with the military, they join law enforcement. The question is what communities want that police officer? You will have people apply and want to be cops, but you’re not going to get the people from the community.
“You don’t want to lower the standards. You want good people. Keeping a diverse police department. If I am a minority and I do have a great background and I do have the opportunity to apply in many different progressions, I’m probably not going to be a cop.”
IDENTYING BAD COPS
“Every chief tries to find a way to filter the five percent of the department that needs to move on and look for another career. Every police department has great people working for them. The problem is it takes time to identify that. We have a Risk Management team, you look at the risk that each officer is involved in (when they are under an internal investigation). It’s complicated but it can be done. You just need to allow law enforcement agencies to have their due process to debrief after incidents of misconduct, to see what could’ve been done to prevent that in the future. Unfortunately, in law enforcement, we question the due process and want things done more quickly to appease certain outcries of the community. We have to allow us the opportunity to really get to the bottom of it and prevent it.”
‘DEFUNDING’ THE POLICE
“The police departments aren’t going to be able to do their job. The departments in urban America will be gutted (like in Milwaukee) to where all you can do is respond to a call for emergency. Yet, the person suffering from the drug issue or the mental health issue, who will respond to them?
“In Milwaukee alone, you have 300,000 calls for service a year. You get 700 calls a day. You’re going to have a city unhappy with the police department. Relationships will change if law enforcement only focuses on calls for service. You won’t have a group that works in outreach.
“This is a pattern that occurs when you get rid of proactive policing. This is going to happen if you don’t address the problem. Say you have a person in the neighborhood involved in a shooting. The neighborhood knows who did that shooting. But you don’t have the cooperation and the police don’t catch that suspect quickly enough. It empowers that suspect and reduces the legitimacy of law enforcement. Then the community (thinks) law enforcement isn’t doing its job.
“Former police chief Nan Hegerty had a proactive unit that brought the annual homicides down to 77. There was a time when someone involved in a shooting was apprehended within 24 hours. That is police legitimacy. That reduces the problem. When you pull the trigger, you know the chances of getting picked up by the police is out there. It makes that suspect think twice.”