'Best man for the job': Council members thrilled Jeffrey Norman is named permanent MPD chief

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) - Milwaukee's new top cop is getting a glowing review from members of Common Council.

On Thursday, Nov. 5, the Fire and Police Commission voted unanimously to appoint Jeffrey Norman to the police chief position for the next four years. Norman has served as acting police chief since December 2020.

Common Council President Cavalier Johnson said Norman is set to be sworn in on Monday, Nov. 8.

Mayor Tom Barrett congratulated Norman Friday. He called him an "accomplished leader."

Members of Common Council said the chief has his work cut out for him. They said they hope addressing violent crime and reckless driving will be Norman's top priorities.

"The increase in non-fatal shootings and homicides are also a huge problem. So he's got his hands full. There's absolutely no question about it," District 4 Alderman Robert Bauman said.

Bauman called reckless driving an "epidemic."

"(Reckless drivers are) literally playing Russian roulette with your life, my life, my daughter's life, all our lives on the city streets," said Alderman Michael Murphy from the city's 10th District.

Murphy, Bauman and Johnson all told CBS 58 they believe Norman is up for the challenge. 

"He is the best man for the job. He's the top cop that we need," Johnson said.

Murphy called Norman's appointment "long overdue."

On Friday, the Common Council adopted the 2022 city budget, effectively approving a committee vote that allows the Milwaukee Police Department to hire 195 officers through taxpayer dollars. MPD will still lose about two dozen positions.

"If we didn't take the action that we did with a budget amendment that I sponsored, we'd be in a position where we effectively would have lost 200 officers over the course of next year or so," Johnson said.

"Do you think that this budget is setting Chief Norman up for success?" CBS 58's Rose Schmidt asked Bauman.

"As much as we can, yes," he replied.

Murphy said he would like to see even more resources given to MPD, but he said he knows not everyone feels that way.

"I do think we're at one of the lowest point in number of officers we've had in a very long time period. We have a very high crime rate, and I'm very concerned about the lack of clearance rates on homicides," Murphy said.

The budget also allocates an additional nearly $9 million for the Office of Violence Prevention. Several council members said the education component is also a key piece of the puzzle in tackling the increase in violent crime.

Here's Barrett's full statement on Norman being selected as the permanent police chief:

"I congratulate Chief Jeffrey Norman for earning approval to lead the Milwaukee Police Department over the next four years. Chief Norman is an accomplished leader with a notable breadth of experience. I also appreciate the work of the Fire and Police Commission as it brought this extended process to a conclusion. Commission members were thoughtful and diligent in their deliberations that wrapped up last evening. There is significant and important work ahead to reduce violence, to curtail reckless driving, and to assure policing in Milwaukee is constitutional and respectful. I look forward to working with Chief Norman to make certain the people of Milwaukee have top quality public safety services."
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