Alfonso Morales '92
2020 Recipient for Distinguished Alumnus Award for Professional Achievement
Alfonso Morales’s ꞌ92 love for community and passion for justice led him to a storied career in law enforcement, where he is known for stressing team success over personal glory.
Twenty-five years after becoming an officer with the Milwaukee Police Department in 1993, Morales rose to the rank of police chief in 2018, taking on responsibility for an agency with 2,300 employees, including around 1,800 sworn offices, and an annual operating budget of more than $300 million.
Morales was born in Milwaukee—the city he now serves—and is second-generation Mexican-American, being the youngest of 10 kids in his family. His philosophy for the Department is to target the small number of offenders that create the vast majority of crime and to empower commanders to take ownership of their districts or divisions and to instill that sense of ownership in the rank and file. Morales understands the importance of community-oriented policing knowing the neighborhood, knowing the families and understanding who is a threat and who isn't. He believes that when officers have a sense of ownership of the area they serve they make time to know the residents of that area and build strong ties. He has been focusing his efforts on maintaining transparency within the department as he aims to strengthen police-community relations, increase diversity in the force and improve 911 response times.
In 2018, Morales was named as one of the most powerful Latinos in Wisconsin by OnMilwaukee.com and Madison365. He also provided Carroll’s Commencement keynote address focused on the theme of ethos just last year in 2019.
His career with MPD began as an officer in the Vice Control Division. In 1999, he was promoted to detective and worked in the Criminal Investigation Bureau on various assignments from burglaries to robberies to homicide.
During his career, Morales was honored for his bravery and valor as a detective for his efforts in the courtroom at the Milwaukee County Courthouse that involved confronting and neutralizing the threats of an armed suspect. The suspect had disarmed and shot a deputy in response to being found guilty of murder by a jury. He attempted to escape in front of the traumatized jury and crowded courtroom until Morales took control of the situation before any other innocent citizens or law enforcement officers were shot or killed.
Morales served from 2003 to 2009 as lieutenant in the Criminal Investigation Bureau, where he managed the night shift Gang Crimes Unit and Homicide Unit. In 2010, he transitioned to the Patrol Bureau, where he managed the detective decentralization project in District Three. He later worked assignments in Internal Affairs, the Police Academy, and HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas).
From 2004-2013 he was the Crisis Negotiator Commander of MPD’s negotiators unit that responded to incidents involving barricaded armed subjects. In 2013, Morales was promoted to the role of Commanding Officer of District Two, which encompasses part of Milwaukee’s South Side and is comprised of more than 87,000 residents. He also ran MPD's Project Safe Neighborhood-High Value Target program, a department-wide initiative designed to reduce violent crime by focusing enforcement efforts on some of the worst gun offenders in our community.
He and his wife graduated from Milwaukee Public Schools and are raising their children on the city’s northwest side. He graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Carroll, played football for four years as a Pioneer athlete, and has taken master’s level classes at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. He is also a graduate of the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP) and will graduate from the from the FBI National Executive Institute in 2020.