In municipalities with police and fire commissions, does the governing body or the police and fire commission have authority to appoint an interim or acting police chief or fire chief while the commission is conducting its search to hire a new police or fire chief?
Under Wis. Stat. sec. 62.13(3), the police and fire commission has exclusive authority to appoint the police chief and the fire chief. It is the League legal staff’s opinion that by implication, only the police and fire commission has authority to appoint an interim or acting chief while the search for a new chief is being conducted. The only court decision touching on this issue supports this conclusion. In Walsh v. Richland Center, 231 Wis. 265 (1939), the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the appointment of an acting or interim chief by the Richland Center police and fire commission.