Former chair of the Fire and Police Commission speaks about his protest resignation at final meeting
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The top two members of Milwaukee's independent Fire and Police Commission are leaving the oversight board to protest state lawmakers stripping them of the ability to make policy.
Act 12 is the law that increased shared revenue and allowed Milwaukee to institute a sales tax.
But it also came with restrictions, among them: the independent FPC can no longer set department policy.
In a letter announcing their resignations, now-former FPC Chair Edward Fallone and Vice Chair Amanda Avalos called the Act 12 provisions an "assault on self-government".
Fallone and Avalos officially resigned at midnight.
But the FPC's work will look a lot different because of the restrictions. Fallone and Avalos said that's why they wanted to send a message to state lawmakers and voters.
Fallone said, "The moment was appropriate to make a stand and to speak to the general public and to rally the residents of the city of Milwaukee."
Just ahead of his final FPC meeting, Fallone explained why he felt the commission has become a political pawn. "We have a simple principle we followed for over 135 years, which is that we should take politics out of public safety. And decisions should be made solely on what keeps us safe, not based on political considerations, who's going to win the next election, how do you cast your political opponent. These issues are too important to the everyday life of Milwaukeeans for them to be turned into political footballs."
Last month, state Republicans included provisions in the shared revenue bill that stripped the civilian commission of its ability to set department policy. Fallone called it an assault on self-government.
At Thursday's meeting, some members of the public shared their frustration.
Tiffany Stark told Fallone, "You did what was right and you stood up for this community. And I really appreciate that. You did that even though it was hard."
For now, the other commissioners are staying on. Many honored Fallone at the meeting.
Executive Director Leon Todd said, "Because of his service, it really has contributed to a safer and more just city."
Commissioner Dana World-Patterson said, "I knew that this was going to be a great endeavor with you at the helm, and I just want to say thank you."
But the commission -- and its duties -- will look different.
Fallone said he's confident the commission will be able to work with the fire and police chiefs to find creative ways to continue their mission.
And he wants people to continue to speak out, be politically active and make their voices heard.
Fallone said, "We should not just roll over and accept laws and shrug our shoulders when those laws are unjust and unjustified."
The commission canceled two committee meetings that were scheduled for next week.
The commission did elect a new chair and vice chair at Thursday night's meeting.
Miriam Horwitz will serve as chair and Dana World-Patterson will be vice chair.