A fired California police chief said she was terminated in part because she refused to give a commissioner “special treatment.”
Anne Kirkpatrick, who until late last week was the police chief of Oakland, California, made the comments in an interview Monday with KTVU. Kirkpatrick said that part of the reason she believes she was fired is because she wouldn’t reimburse commissioner Ginale Harris for towing fees, though it is unclear at this time how much money that included.
“According [to] an internal, confidential memo from 2018 reviewed by KTVU, the chief told the city that Harris ‘demanded’ that she receive reimbursement for towing fees but the chief ‘refused to provide any special treatment’ to Harris,” KTVU reported. “The memo goes on to say that Kirkpatrick feared ‘retaliation’ for the decision. The memo, written up by a private investigator and sent to Oakland’s Human Resourses [sic] department, does not outline the exact dates of the towing or how much money Harris allegedly owed. The memo is also a summary of this alleged interaction; there is no hard evidence, like an email to the chief, that Harris supposedly wrote. It is also unclear why this investigation into Harris was launched, though memo mentioned that Harris had been rude to city staff, including police officers, who felt ‘disrespected and abused,’ at a meeting that year.”
Last Thursday, the Oakland Police Commission, which has seven citizen members and is considered “the most powerful civilian police oversight body in the United States with rare abilities to fire the chief,” according to KTVU, fired Kirkpatrick “without cause.” Mayor Libby Schaaf, who appointed Kirkpatrick in 2017 (to much fanfare, as she was the city’s first female police chief), signed on to the unanimous decision by the commission to fire Kirkpatrick. Schaaf, who had previously defended Kirkpatrick, told KTVU she was “grateful” to Kirkpatrick but signed the commission’s agreement because she believed trust between the commission and Kirkpatrick was “irrevocably” lost, KTVU reported.
“I was given a mandate, first and foremost to reduce crime, to stabilize this police department, to restore trust and healing,” Kirkpatrick said. “The last three years of my tenure were the three lowest consecutive years of the lowest crime rate in 20 years.”
Schaaf agreed that gun violence dropped after Kirkpatrick was appointed, but still signed on to fire her.
“I think well of Mayor Schaaf. I’m really surprised and quite disappointed. Three weeks ago she asked me to go Washington, D.C., and she’s introducing me as her fabulous police chief,” Kirkpatrick told KTVU. “Two weeks ago, she’s saying in front of staff members that she was going to fight for me. I believed her.”
The Coalition for Police Accountability has said Kirkpatrick’s firing should not be a surprise, since she was not aggressive enough on police reforms such as racial profiling and use of force.
Kirkpatrick also blamed a federal monitor who she accused of dragging his work in order to collect a paycheck.
“It’s a million-dollar contract. Where is the incentive to find you in compliance?” Kirkpatrick said. “When we look at the watchdog system you need to look at everybody because it has ties to government money that are being spent. I think someone needs to come in and look at the entire situation.”