by Liam Hoole
Media Production Editor
Anne Kirkpatrick, Oakland Police Department’s first female police chief, was fired after a unanimous vote from the Oakland Police Commission on Feb. 20. Kirkpatrick was reportedly fired after “the Oakland Police Department’s failure to increase compliance with the court-ordered reforms.” The decision was supported by Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, who stated that “In 2016, Oakland voters created the strongest and most independent Police Commission in America. Tonight, the commissioners exercised their power.”
To understand why Kirkpatrick was fired, it is important to understand the Oakland Police Department and its history of misconduct that was first brought to light in 2003. The case was brought up by a rookie officer, as well as over 100 Oakland residents, who accused four veteran officers of misconduct and wrongdoing, including planting evidence, making fake arrests, falsifying reports, and excessive force. These actions were prosecuted in the case of Allen v. City of Oakland, resulting in federally enforced requirements to ensure constitutional policing.
Following the case, the department settled more cases in 2008, 2010, and 2011 involving sexual harassment, excessive force, and other forms of misconduct totaling 57 million dollars, the largest sum paid by any city in California during that time. In 2016, a case involving 14 officers and an underage prostitute led to the departements most infamous scandal. Following the incident, Police Chief Sean Whent resigned and, after much deliberation, Kirkpatrick was hired in 2017 as a final measure to push the Oakland Police department in the right direction.
Since Kirpatrick’s term started, both the commission and federal government agreed that the department has not adhered to the stricter requirements that were put in place after the case in 2003, including harsher punishment for use of excessive force. The commission was not obligated to provide a reason for the ouster; however, at a press conference after the decision had been made, the commision chair Regina Jackson stated that the commission, the mayor, and the the town of Oakland had simply lost faith in Kirkpatrick’s abilities. Oakland Police Department has made Deputy Chief Darren Allison interim chief of the department until a new chief is hired.
(Sources: AP News, NBC)