Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman sent a letter to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners announcing the names of officers he wants to promote – and he included the race and gender of each. It’s the first time this has been done, the police say the FPC requested it, and it’s causing an uproar throughout the department.
No Hispanics made the Milwaukee Police promotion list at all, and no whites made the upper echelon of leadership; the chief and newly promoted assistant chiefs are all Black or Native American. This comes after the illegal mistreatment of Chief Alfonso Morales, who was Hispanic, by the FPC.
We’ve been told by retired and current officers that there is a concern promotions are being made to satisfy an equity and inclusion agenda by the mayor’s office and FPC (of course, many of those pushing equity and inclusion have also helped push an extreme anti-police narrative that likely makes it harder to recruit diverse candidates to the force in the first place.) Some officers don’t believe those on the list are the most qualified for the positions. We put some of their bios at the end of this article.
In 2005, a federal jury in Milwaukee found that former Milwaukee police chief Arthur Jones discriminated against 17 white male lieutenants in promotions. It awarded them $2.2 million.
Milwaukee Police Promotion List
In his letter to the commissioners, he stated that the 10 people up for promotion “represent a diverse group that I am confident will substantially improve the Milwaukee Police Department by being truly representative of our community. Of these 10 individuals, 50% are white, 30% are black and 20% Native American, with 60% male and 40% female.”
None are Hispanic.
The numbers are wildly skewed from the department’s demographics in recent years. In fact, the promotions are closer to the percentages of minorities and women in the city as a whole than in the department, increasing the belief that qualifications were not the overriding or only factor.
In 2017, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that 18% of the force was black, and 83% of officers were men. About 13% of the force was Hispanic, and overall 34% of the department was non-white.
A 2020 newspaper article by NWITimes.com reported that the police department was 68.1% white, 16.5% black, and 11.8% Hispanic.
What are the city’s demographics? According to the US Census Bureau, whites are 44.4%, blacks are 38.7%, Hispanics are 19%, and Native Americans are .06%. Women are 51.9%.Speaking of diversity, the Fire and Police Commission, desired over recent years for its utter dysfunction, is overrepresented by blacks and Hispanics; 50% of the commissioners are black; 33% are Hispanic; and 16% white.
Efrain Cornejo, MPD spokesman, told WRN: “The promotions were based on merit and an interview process with the candidates, and neither race nor gender played a role in the decision-making process. The race and gender demographics were provided at the request of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.”He added: “All promotions have to be approved by the FPC; that is why they are on the agenda. This is the first time this was requested.”
We asked Cornejo how promotions are made. “There is testing for the ranks of detective, Sergeant and Lieutenant that is held by the FPC. For Captain and above there is application process and interview process that is conducted by the Executive Command Staff,” he said.
We contacted the FPC and haven’t received a response.
“Please find below the demographics for the Law Enforcement promotions,” the Dec. 8, 2021, letter says. It then lists three candidates for assistant police chief, four candidates for inspector of police, and two candidates for captain of police. After each candidate, Norman listed their “race/gender.”
The first black officer on the force was Judson Waller Minor Jr., appointed in 1924. The first Hispanic officer on the MPD was Procopio Nick Sandoval in 1964, according to a dissertation by Antonio G. Guajardo Jr.
“Interestingly, in looking at the statistical information from 1990 to 2000, the MPD seemed to diversify its police force at a higher rate than the national average,” he said. “The diversification of MPD included the hiring of minority police chiefs; however, the number of incidents of uses of force in minority communities, especially the African American community, did not seem to decrease.”
Over the years, there have been suits and countersuits on MPD, diversity and promotions.
Who are the new assistant police chiefs?
Paul Formolo: Previously an Inspector, Paul Formolo has been a member of the Milwaukee Police Department since December 2, 1996. “Inspector Formolo was assigned to District 4 as a patrol officer until he was promoted to the rank of detective in September 2001. A vast majority of Inspector Formolo’s time as a detective was committed to investigating homicides,” his bio says. “Inspector Formolo was then promoted to lieutenant in February 2013. After Inspector Formolo was promoted to lieutenant he was assigned to District 7 as a shift supervisor until April 2015. Inspector Formolo was then assigned to the Neighborhood Task Force from April 2015 through October 2015. Inspector Formolo’s last assignment as a lieutenant was at the Metropolitan Investigations Division. Inspector Formolo served as a lieutenant for the Metropolitan Investigations Division until August 2016, which is when he took on the duties and responsibilities of acting captain for the Metropolitan Investigations Unit. Inspector Formolo was formally promoted to captain in May 2017 and assigned to command the South Investigations Division and then the Violent Crimes Division. In August of 2020, Inspector Formolo was promoted to inspector and was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Bureau.”
Nicole Waldner: Her department bio says, “Inspector Nicole Waldner became a Milwaukee Police Officer in 1996. In 2001, Inspector Waldner was promoted to Detective and was assigned to the Narcotics Division where she investigated multiple drug investigations. In 2009, Inspector Waldner was promoted to Lieutenant and worked in Homicide Division, the Internal Affairs Division, and the Police Academy. She was promoted to the rank of Captain in August 2015 and was the commander of the Milwaukee Police Academy. Inspector Waldner oversees various trainings for more than 1,800 sworn police personnel, along with the department’s civilian personnel. Inspector Waldner was also responsible for training approximately 200 recruit officers yearly. In May 2020, Inspector Waldner was assigned to the HIDTA. In August 2020, Inspector Waldner was promoted to Inspector and was assigned to the Administration Bureau.”
Captain Steven Johnson: According to his departmental bio, Captain Steven Johnson “was appointed to the Milwaukee Police Department in May of 1997. Upon graduation from the academy, he was assigned to District 1. In May of 2007, Captain Johnson was promoted to Police Sergeant and was assigned to District 4. As a Police Sergeant, Captain Johnson was assigned to Districts 7, 5, and Technical Communication Division (TCD). In November of 2017, Captain Johnson was promoted to Police Lieutenant and was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), Sensitive Crimes Division (SCD), as the Early Shift commander. In April of 2018, he was transferred to District 3 and served as the Early Shift commander. Captain Johnson was promoted to his current rank of Captain of Police in September of 2020, and took over command of District 3. In September of 2021, Captain Johnson was assigned as the Patrol Bureau Executive Officer. Captain Johnson is a proud resident of the City of Milwaukee. He is a graduate of Milwaukee James Madison High School. Captain Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO). While attending UWO, Captain Johnson joined Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. in October of 1993. Captain Johnson is still an active member with the organization as a Platinum Life Member. Captain Johnson is a graduate of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Leadership in Police (LPO), Northwestern University Center for Public Safety Supervision of Police Personnel, Milwaukee Police Department Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, and the FBI-Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (LEEDA) Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) and Command Leadership Institute (CLI).”
Here are some of the other bios:
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared at Wisconsin Right Now.