By Barnini Chakraborty
Published February 21, 2020
Oakland's first female police chief was unceremoniously ousted Thursday night by a commission made up of a group of civilians. The move caps off a contentious three-year battle between Anne Kirkpatrick and the city she was hired to protect.
Commission chairwoman Regina Jackson said the decision to dismiss Kirkpatrick stems from "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 Commission demands a leader who will diversify and grow the Department to the level of respect that our officers and community deserve," she said in a statement.
The Oakland Police Commission was created by a voter-approved ballot initiative in 2016 that was aimed at building a better relationship between residents and police officers. Oakland's police force has been under federal court supervision since a 2003 settlement of a civil rights lawsuit that accused officers of planting evidence and beating up suspects.
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 teenage daughter of an Oakland dispatcher. During that time, there were also allegations that Oakland cops had exchanged racist text messages and emails. Kirkpatrick has also 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.
The commission voted to kick Kirkpatrick out during a closed session of its meeting Thursday around 8 p.m. They announced their decision immediately after the meeting.
Shortly thereafter, Schaaf weighed in.
"The police commission is the community's voice. The voters in Oakland in 2016 created the most powerful and independent police commission in the country. Tonight they exercised that power."
"The police commission is the community's voice," she said. "The voters of Oakland in 2016 created the most powerful and independent police commission in the country. Tonight they exercised that power."
Schaaf added that it was her responsibility to determine when the trust between the commission and the chief "has become irrevocably lost and prevents Oakland from moving forward."
Oakland Police Officers' Association President Barry Donelan issued a statement praising Kirkpatrick's progress and voicing his disappointment with the decision to fire her.
"Chief Anne Kirkpatrick was a well-respected leader of the Oakland Police Department and was making significant progress in bringing stability to OPD. But, fighting for Oakland's residents and Police Officers alike does not endear you to Oakland's unelected Police Commissioners and our Mayor. Oakland Police Officers are disappointed in the actions of the Police Commission and the Mayor. These events don't bode well for public safety in Oakland. Oakland's robbery epidemic continues, we face sideshows every weekend, Oakland Police Officer numbers are attriting downward, and crime in every category was up in 2019."
If Kirkpatrick does not contest the commission's actions, she will receive one year's pay or about $270,000.
A nationwide search has begun for her replacement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.