With Milwaukee Police Department Chief Nannette Hegerty's last day in office before retirement quickly approaching, city officials are searching for a replacement. The city's Fire and Police Commission held a forum last night as a part of the search for a new leader for the city's police force.
Five finalists for the position filed into the Common Council Chambers of City Hall Wednesday evening to answer questions from the Milwaukee Board of Fire and Police Commissioners and the public.
Among the five candidates is Third District Capt. James Harpole, whose district includes Marquette. Joining him in the pool are two other members of the Milwaukee police department. Both Ramon Galaviz and Denita Ball are deputy inspectors for the city.
The two remaining candidates are from outside the state. Edward A. Flynn is the current police commissioner of Springfield, Mass., and Leonard Supenski is the former chief of police for Ypsilanti, Mich.
In opening statements, the in-state candidates stressed their service to and knowledge of Milwaukee as strengths. The out-of-state candidates expressed their experience and backgrounds as avenues for new outlooks.
The interviewing panel was composed of Karine Moreno-Taxman, assistant U.S. attorney; Ralph Hollman, president of the Milwaukee Urban League; and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.
Each panel member asked a question to each of the five candidates and the candidates had three minutes to respond.
The finalists were questioned on both achievements and failures in their careers.
All focused on their abilities to cooperate with staff, other agencies and the district attorney's office as achievements in their careers. They all cited inabilities to recognize the importance of such collaboration as mistakes in their early years.
"Leaders are developed," Flynn said. "They don't come fully formed."
The interviewees also gave similar responses when asked how to foster a relationship with the community. All said an increased connection and familiarization between police officers and community members, and increased community education about public safety were important.
"Collaboration [with the community] is a key element in making sure we can reduce violence in Milwaukee," Harpole said.
Differences arose in the answers to a question about how to reduce violent crime. Flynn said he wants to increase the capacity for information analysis, which puts more information into the hands of police officers and the community.
The forum closed with questions from the audience. Questions from attendees swept across a range of topics, though many focused on diversity and finances.
The finalists now await the Fire and Police Commission's decision which is expected next week at the earliest. Hegerty's last day in office will be Nov. 16.