OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — The former Oakland police chief Anne Kirkpatrick says she was terminated because she refused to do any special favors for the board that ended up firing her.
Kirkpatrick sat down with KRON4’s Pam Moore just a few days after being fired by the city.
On Thursday, members of the Oakland Police Commission and Mayor Libby Schaaf voted to terminate the chief of police without cause.
According to an internal memo, Oakland Police Commissioner Ginale Harris demanded she be reimbursed for towing fees, but Kirkpatrick said she refused to provide any special treatment.
“The refusal of Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to fix tickets for a police commissioner is just one example of retaliation and other factors that the Chief believes led to her unwarranted termination by the Police Commission and Mayor,” said a statement provided by Kirkpatrick’s representation, Sam Singer.
Kirkpatrick became the city’s first female police chief when she was appointed by Mayor Schaaf in 2017.
She took over the troubled department amid allegations that a group of officers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area were having sex with the teen daughter of an Oakland dispatcher.
During her one-on-one with Moore, Kirkpartick expressed her disappointment in being fired, called on the Department of Justice to look into Oakland reform efforts, and had some advice for city’s next police chief.
Surprised and disappointed
Kirkpatrick said the news of her termination came as a surprise to her, especially since she says she met all the mandates that came with the job.
She said Mayor Schaaf told her in a phone call.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” she said. “I had met all the mandates associated with what I was brought here to do.”
When Moore asked if she thought Mayor Schaaf was “throwing her under the bus,” Kirkpatrick said she’s still grateful that Schaaf selected her, but she’s also disappointed in Schaaf.
“I was disappointed because I had believe in her, ” Kirkpatrick said. “Just two weeks ago she talked about how fabulous I was and she would fight for me and stand for me so I was taken aback because I did believe that.”
Kirkpatrick said she asked Schaaf why she made the decision to join the commission and Schaaf said she thought that was what’s best for the city and the organization.
Calls on DOJ to look into reform effort
Moore pressed Kirkpatrick on the federal monitor’s recent disappointment in the department.
But Kirkpatrick claims that wasn’t always the case.
“I find it very interesting that the monitor would say to me in a one-on-one meeting with him we are making progress, that we are in the red zone.” she said. “And my response to him was ‘Is it going to be in writing in your report?’ He says I can’t make any promises.”
When asked why she thought the federal monitor would say that, she said she thought there could be incentives for the monitor.
“If you get into compliance, you no longer need a federal monitor do you?” she said. “When you are making the money you are making, I think it is something that is a pattern that needs to be looked at. Other chiefs have gotten really close to compliance, and they are no longer here.”
Moore asked, “did you have a problem accepting the police commission and the monitor overseeing your work?”
“No,” she responded. “I want to be clear that even though this police commission terminated me, I believe in citizen oversight. I have not stepped away from that principle…In today’s law enforcement we should have civilian oversight. I also support federal oversight in certain situations but you can abuse it.”
“I think a 17 year track record of being under federal oversight, something’s wrong,” she said.
Kirkpatrick said she plans on calling on the Department of Justice to open an inquiry into the department’s reform efforts.
“I will tell you, why I am the tenth chief who has been terminated during this reform effort?” she said. “I believe in reform. I want to be perfectly clear, I believe in government oversight and reform when it’s needed,” she continued. “I think Oakland did need it initially, but we are going into our 17th year and you have had ten chiefs, four mayors, two judges, two monitoring teams. When does it stop? Because when you make as much money as you do as an overseer, where is the incentive to bring us into compliance.”
Moore asked: “You think the DOJ should come in and shut down this whole process of the federal monitor overseeing the Oakland Police Department?”
“Reform is important but you can also have watch dogs that are taking advantage of the system,” she replied.
Weighing Legal Options
Moore: “Are you contemplating a lawsuit?”
Kirkpatrick: “I am weighing that, yes.”
Moore: “Based on?”
“I know what happened,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know yet because I didn’t choose to share it now.”
Kirkpatrick said there are significant facts about her termination that have not been made public yet.
She also said she believed the tension between herself and the police commission was personal, not about the facts of her leadership.
“I do know what it was but it is not the time to share it now,” she said. “I will be happy to come back. I will be a truth speaker. I will speak about it but some other dominoes have to fall before you can learn what the facts are but I do know.”
Kirkpatrick said it wasn’t just one incident, it was a combination of concerns that she brought forward to city officials.
“I chose not to make them public,” she said. “I chose to try to work behind closed doors. Why make it public? We don’t need to but we need corrective actions that did not occur. It is not time for me to share that.”
When asked if she was angry with city officials and the federal monitor, she said she was disappointed, not angry.
Advice for next chief? Don’t come to Oakland
Kirkpatrick had some advice for the next police chief – don’t come to Oakland if you have family who is going to rely on your income.
She said she’s very respected nationally and has a good reputation, so she knows she’ll get a call eventually.
“If you have a family, or parents, or anyone, who will rely on your income, then don’t come to Oakland,” she said. “Because you can look at the history of ten chiefs. I would not recommend that to anyone who needs to rely on an income.”
She also said the Oakland Police Department is a great department that doesn’t deserve the criticism today that they brought on themselves many years ago. It’s time for them to move forward, she said.
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