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Oakland Police Chief Kirkpatrick Fired; Police Commission Lost Trust In Her Leadership

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- The Oakland Police Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to fire police chief Anne Kirkpatrick three years after she took the job.

"There have been a lot of improvements, but the disparities continue to exist and there are a series of issues that have just contributed to losing the confidence," said police commission chair Regina Jackson.

The termination is without cause, which means the commission isn't obligated to give a reason for ousting chief Kirkpatrick.

Jackson said in a news conference shortly after the vote that they had lost confidence in Kirkpatrick over time. She said the discussion to fire the police chief began about a week ago.

Sources with the city told KPIX that some of the issues with Kirkpatrick stemmed from failing to uphold reforms as the department runs under federal oversight, which began after a lawsuit over police misconduct in 2000.

Last year, the federal monitor criticized the chief's disciplinary decisions involving officers who shot and killed a homeless man.

"In Oakland, you have to earn the trust of every key stakeholder," Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf said. "If this commission unanimously does not continue to have confidence in this chief, I believe that it is my duty to heed their request."

The mayor agreed with the commission's decision but also gave Kirkpatrick credit for reducing gun violence, officer-involved shootings and discretionary stops of African-Americans.

Schaaf said she'd spoken with the federal monitor about the termination and he didn't object.

Still, the mayor said she has no regrets hiring Kirkpatrick in the first place.

"She stood up and came to Oakland three years ago in the wake of a very shameful episode for our department," Schaaf said. "But I must respect the authority and role of our independent police commission."

Kirkpatrick is entitled to one year's pay of about $270,000, if she agrees to be released from her duty as police chief.

Officers with the Oakland Police Officers' Association said that the job as Oakland police chief is the most difficult chief's job in the nation.

The association's president Barry Donelan said in a statement that Kirkpatrick was making progress "bringing stability to OPD."

But, he said, "fighting for Oakland's residents and police officers alike does not engender you to Oakland's unelected police commissioners and our mayor."

Donelan said officers are disappointed that Kirkpatrick was fired but they are ready to work with her replacement. Schaaf said she'll be searching nationwide for a new chief.

Kirkpatrick joined the police department as chief in 2017.

The mayor's office released the following statements from Schaaf and Oakland police commissioner Regina Jackson:

On Thursday, February 20, 2020, the Oakland Police Commission voted to request that Mayor Libby Schaaf join the Commission in terminating Chief Anne Kirkpatrick from her position as Chief of Police. Mayor Schaaf agreed to exercise the provision, created by voter-approved Measure LL, to allow The Police Commission and the Mayor to jointly dismiss the Chief without cause. The Mayor and The Police Commission released the following statements:

From Mayor Libby Schaaf: "The Police Commission is the community's voice in our system of checks and balances, and I respect its authority and its role. In 2016, Oakland voters created the strongest and most independent Police Commission in America. Tonight, the commissioners exercised their power. As Mayor, it is my duty to determine when the trust between The Police Commission and the Police Chief has become irrevocably lost and prevents Oakland from moving forward.
I remain grateful to Chief Kirkpatrick for coming to serve Oakland in the wake of a shameful episode in the department's history and bringing a steady leadership that stabilized the department. Under her leadership, Oakland saw one of its lowest periods of gun violence and officer-involved shootings, as well as new anti-racial profiling policies that significantly reduced discretionary stops of African Americans. I am grateful for Chief Kirkpatrick's service to our city for the past three years."

From Commission Chair Regina Jackson: "Since the Commission's inception, the Commissioners, along with the rest of the citizens of the City of Oakland, observed the Oakland Police Department's failure to increase compliance with the court-ordered reforms required under the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA). The Commission's vote reflects our desire to see the City of Oakland move ahead under new leadership. The Commission looks forward to working with Mayor Schaaf to identify a Chief of Police who will build trust in the community and address racial and gender disparities that continue to exist in the Department and in our City. Our new Chief must address use of force issues and end the need for a court-appointed monitor. The Commission demands a leader who will diversify and grow the Department to the level of respect that our officers and community deserve. The Department must be a model of constitutional policing and justice, and the Commission is committed to working with the Mayor to find the right next leader."

Darren Allison will serve as Acting Chief until an Interim Chief is appointed.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report

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