By Evan Casey
There’s a new face in charge of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission. La Keisha Butler began her term as the commission’s executive director last week. She was voted in by common council members on May 24, after being appointed by Mayor Tom Barrett.
Butler said her main goal as the new executive director is to strengthen communication between board members and members of the community. The MFPC is one of the oldest civilian oversight committees in the nation, serving as a watch guard over the city’s fire and police departments.
“I like to be open with people and hear their ideas,” she said in an interview.
Butler, a city lobbyist, began engaging in public service years ago in Baltimore through a street law program where she says she taught homeless men about the legal system. She moved to Milwaukee with her husband in 2009, and began to work as an attorney for the Wisconsin Department in Revenue in 2010.
“I felt called to use my abilities to better the spaces that I am in,” said Butler. “I believe I am called to serve… in any government work I am in, I want to bring about good and change.”
Butler was also the staff attorney to the Fire and Police Commission, and served as the director of the City’s intergovernmental relations division, according to a press release from the Mayor’s office.
Butler’s day-to-day operations will involve “setting the groundwork,” as she puts it. She will be meeting with multiple city agencies and departments, but she also says that she will be focused on bettering relationships between the police department and the southside of Milwaukee.
“Usually when we talk about police, it’s about the north side,” she says. “We want to implement police and community relationships on the southside as well.”
Butler’s pick by the Mayor comes after previous executive director MaryNell Regan resigned last month. Regan’s exit came shortly after the MFPC was accused of violating open meeting laws when it first appointed police chief Alfonso Morales to his post.
Butler’s pick by the Mayor did raise some eyebrows after the Mayor proposed a pay raise for her new role, but Butler is choosing to focus on the work at hand.
“My role comes with responsibility as far as knowing what is going in in those departments,” said Butler. “It gives the citizens of the city a safeguard as to what goes on with the police and fire department.”