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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, composed of part-time board members, oversees the city’s fire and police departments.

The nine commissioners are appointed by the mayor, approved by the Common Council and supported by a full-time staff.

The commission sets policy and hires the chiefs of both departments. The chiefs run day-to-day operations.

The commission was created in 1885 by state law as a way to remove fire and police services from politics.

The Wisconsin Legislature on June 14, 2023 approved a wide-ranging bill that includes changes to the commission.

Policymaking authority would be transferred from the commission to the two chiefs.

Additionally, one of the commission members would have to be chosen from nominations made by the police union and one by the firefighters’ union. Those members could not be current employees of either department.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


City of Milwaukee Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission 2022 Annual Report

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel What is the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission and why should I care about it?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Shared revenue bill would diminish civilian oversight of police, Milwaukee mayor warns

Wisconsin State Legislature Wisconsin Legislature: AB245: Bill Text

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.