Former Spokane Police Chief ousted from role with Oakland Police Department

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Police Commission voted unanimously Thursday to fire the city’s first female police chief without cause.

Commission chair, Regina Jackson, said Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick’s ouster comes after “the Oakland Police Department’s failure to increase compliance with the court-ordered reforms” required under a federal settlement more than a decade ago.

The decision was supported by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who appointed Kirkpatrick in 2017.

“The Police Commission is the community’s voice in our system of checks and balances, and I respect its authority and its role,” Schaaf said in a statement.

“In 2016, Oakland voters created the strongest and most independent Police Commission in America. Tonight, the commissioners exercised their power,” she added.

Oakland Police Officers’ Association President Barry Donelan expressed disappointment over the firing and said Kirkpatrick was well-respected in the department.

“But fighting for Oakland’s residents and Police Officers alike does not endear you to Oakland’s unelected Police Commissioners and our Mayor,” he said.

The police force has been under federal court supervision since the 2003 settlement of a civil rights lawsuit that accused officers of planting evidence, beating suspects and other wrongdoing.

Kirkpatrick took over the troubled department in January 2017 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 that time, allegations came to light that Oakland officers had exchanged racist text messages and emails.

Kirkpatrick also had been at odds with the department’s federal monitor over the discipline she handed out to officers who shot and killed a homeless man in 2018.

Darren Allison, assistant chief of police, will serve as acting chief until an interim leader is appointed.

Kirkpatrick’s time in Spokane

Before her time in California, Kirkpatrick spent years as an officer in Washington state. She served as the chief of the Spokane Police Department from 2006-2012. She was brought in to lead after the Otto Zehm killing at the hands of an SPD officer.

Her motto for officers was, “You lie, you die.” It was a tough approach that ruffled the feathers of many within the department.

Kirkpatrick later came under fire over her handling of the Jay Mehring case. In November 2011 a Spokane jury found Kirkpatrick had illegally fired the officer and then retaliated against him even after the veteran cop was cleared of any wrongdoing in a harassment case involving his ex-wife.

Kirkpatrick did rehire Mehring, but according to the officer’s attorneys, the chief continued to make his life miserable and a jury agreed.

The jury awarded Mehring more than $700,000, including $250,000 in punitive damages that specifically named the former chief. The City Council had previously voted to indemnify her against any damages.

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