OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — On Friday, questions continued to swirl around Thursday night’s decision by Oakland’s police commission and Mayor Libby Schaaf to fire the police chief without providing any concrete reason for the dismissal.
Her name was still on the program at the 183rd Basic Recruit Academy Graduation Ceremony, but Anne Kirkpatrick is no longer the chief of the Oakland Police Department.
She was removed from the position after a unanimous Thursday evening vote by the police commission to oust her.
The termination is without cause, which means the commission isn’t obligated to give a reason for ousting chief Kirkpatrick.
Darren Allison, who was promoted to deputy chief almost three years ago, is currently serving as the OPD’s acting chief until an interim chief is appointed.
“Our acting chief is extremely focused on today’s 183rd academy graduation. He’s going to remain at the ceremony,” said Oakland Police Public Information Officer Johnna Watson.
While officials addressed the firing on Friday, nothing they said gave any clarification to possible reasons behind the dismissal.
“We’ve moved on. We are looking for a new form of leadership and we wish Chief Kirkpatrick well,” said Oakland Police Commission Chair Regina Jackson.
On Thursday, Jackson said that a loss of confidence in Kirkpatrick contributed to the decision to fire her.
Mayor Schaaf also briefly spoke about the firing.
“My decision yesterday was extremely personally difficult for me, but I made it because I believe it was in the best interest of Oakland,” said Schaaf. “I want this day to be a day of celebration. Leaders will come and go. I’m on my way out in little more than two years myself.”
Both the acting chief and the mayor avoided the media Friday. The new graduates were even told to not speak to reporters.
But a couple of speakers on stage acknowledged Kirkpatrick, with one thanking her for her leadership.
Jackson said as the commission begins the hiring process for a new chief, she personally is leaning toward considering internal candidates first.
“It might be a good idea to look at someone internally who has not been touched by any of the challenges,” said Jackson. “A person that already has trust and respect.”
Civil rights attorney Jim Chanin is involved in the monitoring of the reform. He says the police department was close to full compliance with just three items left. But under Kirkpatrick’s leadership, a federal judge added five more tasks.
“This problem with the backsliding on tasks was very bad and ultimately unacceptable not only to me, but more importantly to the police commission and the mayor,” said Chanin.
Some of those were related to the police shooting of a homeless man in 2018. The commission and the federal monitor wanted Kirkpatrick to fire those officers, but she refused.
“She was sold to the City of Oakland and to its residents as a reformer. But when she came here, she actually turned in a conformer,” said civil rights attorney Adante Pointer.
Long-time Oakland resident Ken Steele was upset and confused by the decision, especially after the improvements he says he has seen on Oakland’s streets.
“Policing in the neighborhoods and everything. To me, I just see a different attitude. That’s a good thing,” said Steele.
City Councilmember Noel Gallo told KPIX he has already received several emails and calls from constituents who are looking for answers and reassurances about the stability of the police department.
“We no longer have become City Hall, but Silly Hall,” said Gallo. “I think the timing was completely wrong and we should have worked something out. We were growing our relationship with the police Chief in a positive direction.”
Gallo said that the relationship between the city council and the police chief “was growing in a positive direction” and questioned the timing of the firing.
“You don’t terminate anyone or dismiss anyone without a cause,” said Gallo. “By them saying there’s no cause involved clearly, to me, sends a different message. And now, not only do I have to terminate you, I have to compensate you for not being in Oakland working for a number of years.”
Some city leaders supported the chief. Under her leadership, crime dropped by double digits in 2018 compared to 2017. Crime went back up in 2019.
“This is what, the 10th, 11th police chief in my seven years. We keep changing one after another, coming up with the same results: firing everybody,” said Gallo. “And I still got the monitor that I’m paying now. That whole experience has cost me $20 million that I could use to fix and clean the streets, hire more police. But no; I’m over here playing this political game.”
Kirkpatrick served as Oakland’s police chief for three years.
Da Lin contributed to this report.