Fired Oakland PD Chief Ramps Up Lawsuit After Other Fired Officials Speak Out
Oakland, CA – Former Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick announced Thursday that she has retained a heavy-hitting law firm to file a lawsuit against the city of Oakland.
The now-former police chief was fired by the civilian police oversight board without cause on Feb. 20, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
During her three years running the Oakland Police Department (OPD), the now-former chief consistently garnered positive feedback from city leaders, Oakland officers, and the police union, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“When I was hired, I was given a mandate to reduce crime, stabilize the department, shift culture [and] have police accountability,” former Chief Kirkpatrick said. “I have met those mandates. And I’ve exceeded them.”
Under the 60-year-old police chief’s watch, overall crime decreased each year with the exception of 2019, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“The last three years of my tenure were the three lowest consecutive years of the lowest crime rate in 20 years,” she told KTVU.
Former Chief Kirkpatrick said she is “outraged” by how the commission handled her ouster, and that she also plans to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation into the federal court’s oversight of the OPD.
“I think, obviously, they were trying to get ‘just cause’… and they couldn’t get it,” the now-former chief said of the Oakland Police Commission’s closed-session meetings. “So, I guess that’s why I got fired without cause.”
The federal monitoring began 17 years ago in the wake of incidents of abuse and racial profiling by a group of OPD officers, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The federal court’s oversight was originally slated to last just five years, but the OPD must also complete over 50 “tasks” and multiple subtasks in order for the oversight to conclude.
Approximately three weeks before she was fired, Chief Kirkpatrick said that the department was finally nearing full completion of the tasks.
The former chief filed a whistleblower complaint against the city in February that alleged she was terminated in retaliation for exposing misconduct by members of the police oversight board, KPIX reported.
The complaint claimed members of the commission had sought personnel records they weren’t supposed to access, expected special treatment from police officers, and bullied and verbally abused OPD staff.
“Put simply, the Police Commission is out of control,” the former chief’s complaint said. “Commissioners routinely seek access to legally protected Oakland Police Department (“OPD”) personnel records, to which they are not entitled and to which they have no lawful right of access. Commissioners corruptly look for special treatment from OPD in their personal affairs. They frequently abuse OPD staff and interfere in day-to-day operations.”
But Kirkpatrick didn’t move to file a lawsuit against her former employer until after Oakland’s former compliance director, Thomas Frazier, came out and criticized federal monitor Robert Warshaw for the same thing, the East Bay Times reported.
“I am absolutely confident that I could have had the Oakland Police Department in compliance,” Frazier wrote in a statement. “I was six to eight months from completing the task when my contract was not renewed, I believe, at the behest of Robert Warshaw.”
Frazier and Kirkpatrick have both said that Warshaw doesn’t want OPD to be finished with its monitoring because he would lose his very high-paying job overseeing the process, the East Bay Times reported.
Former Oakland police chiefs Howard Jordan and Sean Whent and former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton have all questioned Warshaw’s handling the seemingly never-ending oversight program.
Prominent San Francisco law firm Keker Van Nest & Peters is representing the former Oakland police chief, the East Bay Times reported.
Kirkpatrick has not yet said when she would file and who would be named as defendants in her lawsuit.