Waukesha Fire Chief Jesse Alba demoted to rank of firefighter, Police and Fire Commission rules
Termination was considered, but his past service kept him from being fired
Almost two months after the first disciplinary hearing, the Waukesha Police and Fire Commission voted 3-1 to demote embattled fire chief Jesse Alba to the rank of firefighter.
The one vote against demotion was because one commissioner wanted to terminate Alba, who had been accused by the city violating its anti-harassment policy and other code of coduct rules.
Alba, on paid administrative leave since Aug. 21, said he asked a part-time female WFD employee to consider resigning on two occasions due to the difficulties both were having in getting past the affair the two had in 2012.
The woman, who has since resigned, denied they had a sexual relationship to the investigator and did not testify during any of the hearings.
Alba didn't believe he violated any rules because he said it was a personal matter and didn't impact his professional work.
But during the disciplinary hearings Alba said the woman coming to the station was a distraction and her resigning provided a solution.
The PFC, who named Alba chief in the spring, ultimately didn't see it that way.
"The board finds it alarming that Chief Alba believes he has done nothing wrong in light of the overwhelming substantial evidence that supports the contrary," the commission's findings state. "Based on findings alone, the board finds there is sufficient basis to terminate Chief Alba based upon the seriousness of his conduct."
However, the findings state that the PFC is required to consider the seriousness of his conduct with his record of service with the department.
Alba started with the WFD in 1986 and has moved up the ranks over the years. Outside of a four-year stint with the City of Brookfield Fire Department, he has been in Waukesha his entire career.
"No one can dispute the fact that he has performed in a commendable manner in his 24 years of service with one minor exception," the findings state. "Although the board finds that the more severe measure of termination was reasonably available in this case, we conclude that termination is not appropriate in light of Chief Alba's commendable past record with the department."
Nonetheless, the four-member PFC, who ruled that Alba did not violate the city's anti-harassment policy but did violate other rules, was clearly disappointed in Alba's behavior.
"This does not outweigh his failure as a supervisor and cannot prevent the board from finding he is not suitable as chief or in any supervisory capacity," the findings state.
Mayor Jeff Scrima said in July when he filed the initial statement of charges that he would have fired Alba.
On Monday, he said "The Police and Fire Commission have acted with justice and mercy."
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