Police Commission Chairman Promised to Reappoint Chief if Officer was Fired

By Dan O'Donnell

July 7, 2020

Embattled Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission Chairman Steven DeVougas promised to reappoint Police Chief Alfonso Morales if Morales agreed to fire an officer involved in the tazing of Milwaukee Bucks guard, sources confirm to "The Dan O'Donnell Show."

Sources close to an investigation into DeVougas' conduct over the past year told "The Dan O'Donnell Show" that DeVougas demanded that all of the officers involved in Brown's arrest in January 2018 be fired. When one of those officers, James P. Collins, was also involved in an incident in a tow lot in October 2019, DeVougas became fixated on him and told Morales that he would see that Morales was reappointed to another term as Chief if Collins was fired.

Morales, whose status was in limbo until he was reappointed in December, refused DeVougas' apparent quid pro quo. DeVougas was one of two Fire and Police Commission members who voted against Morales' reappointment, which passed on a 4-2 vote with one abstention.

A Fire and Police Commission investigation into DeVougas' conduct determined that DeVougas broke City of Milwaukee ethics rules when he represented developer Kalan Haywood, Sr. in an interview with a police officer last August when Haywood was accused of sexual assault.

According to that investigation, Morales said "his relationship with DeVougas was deteriorating throughout 2019, for reasons that had nothing to do with Haywood's case. The men had a running disagreement about whether Morales should fire a certain officer or officers involved" in the Sterling Brown incident.

After Collins' involvement in the tow lot incident, "Morales says that DeVougas told him that he could gain reappointment if he fired Officer Collins."

In an email to "The Dan O'Donnell Show," DeVougas vehemently denied that he offered such a quid pro quo, which could be construed as an illegal bribe to a public official under Wisconsin Statute 946.10.

"I categorically deny anything of the like and would like to see any evidence to the contrary that serves as the basis of this allegation," DeVougas said. "I am one vote on a commission of seven, so I wouldn’t have the power or authority to even make such an offer. In addition, it contradicts the role of the commission as an APPELLATE body. I have always respected the role of the chief to hand down discipline and my record reflects that."

However, multiple sources with ties to the Fire and Police Commission's investigation said that DeVougas repeatedly intimated to Morales that he would schedule Morales' reappointment hearing if Morales would only fire Collins. When Morales refused, the investigation found that DeVougas began to "express an intention to slow the [reappointment] process down. On December 13, DeVougas publicly stated that he wanted more information from MPD so was in no rush to vote on the appointment by the end of the year."

Three days later, "DeVougas publicly stated that there would be no vote on Morales by the FPC that week because there were still too many unanswered questions on issues with which DeVougas was concerned."

Since DeVougas was clearly holding up a vote on Morales' reappointment and his contract was set to expire on January 7, two other FPC members "called for a special meeting to vote on the chief." DeVougas opposed this move and ultimately voted against the reappointment.

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