OAKLAND (CBS SF) – About 200 Oakland police officers gathered at their police union headquarters late Tuesday morning to say an emotional goodbye to police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, who was fired without cause Thursday night after three years on the job.
“In my fourteen years, I’ve never seen anything like this when we have lost a chief,” said one officer.
Oakland Police Lt. Frederick Shavies said Kirkpatrick made an impact.
“She came here during a troubled time and she brought some stability,” said Shavies. “She made the rank and file officers feel important by speaking to them by asking if they were okay.”
Kirkpatrick seemed touched by the outpouring of support on short notice, fighting back tears as officers hugged her and gave her flowers.
“I was told many years ago a true leader will know if they are a leader if they look over their shoulder and someone is standing there,” said Kirkpatrick. “And I’m looking over my shoulder today and they are standing here. I didn’t just want to be a Chief. I wanted to be a leader.”
The former chief added, “These officers are the best of the best and haven’t deserved the criticism they’ve gotten.”
Kirkpatrick, who began her job on March 1, 2017, said her firing by the Oakland Police Commission and Mayor Libby Schaaf “will destabilize the Police Department and the community.”
Kirkpatrick added, “I’m saddened I have to say goodbye.”
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Without being specific, Kirkpatrick said some people in Oakland had been “looking over my shoulder” and asking her to do things she didn’t think were right.
She said she didn’t want to do anything inappropriate and “wanted to be an honorable leader and keep my integrity.”
Justin Berton, a spokesperson for Mayor Schaaf released the following statement.
“Anne Kirkpatrick’s service to Oakland deserves the gratitude and appreciation members from the department showed her today. The Police Commission’s unprecedented vote to remove a Police Chief from duty was an extraordinary exercise of power by a citizen-led commission and it will take time for the community to process it.”
In an interview with KPIX 5 on Monday, Kirkpatrick said she felt blindsided by the firing.
“The mayor praises me but I’m terminated. I don’t understand,” said Kirkpatrick. “Even the federal monitor, who was here with me three weeks ago, says to me in his closing meeting, one-on-one; he said, ‘Anne, you are deep in the red zone.’ If you are a football fan like I am, it means you’re real close to the goal line.”
“I will be asking the Department of Justice to come in and open an inquiry into this whole reform process. Because something is wrong,” she went on to say.
Schaaf said Thursday that the trust between the Police Commission and Kirkpatrick was “irrevocably broken” and keeping the chief in her job would prevent the city from moving forward.
Police Commission Chair Regina Jackson said the Police Department has still failed to comply with reforms that were ordered in a federal court settlement 17 years ago.
Interim Assistant Police Chief Darren Allison is acting chief of police until a permanent chief is selected.
Oakland Police Officers’ Association president Barry Donelan said at the gathering for Kirkpatrick on Tuesday that “the process in which she fired was terrible and an abomination.”
Donelan said, “The cops will still do their duty but they will be wondering what new chief will want to work here and how long a new chief will last.”
Donelan said Kirkpatrick had brought some stability to a Police Department that has now gone through nine different police chiefs since he became the union’s president in 2012.
“What your saw here today speaks volumes. I hope members of the city council, I hope members who sit on the police commission and the mayor take notice of where their police department is,” said Donelan.
Donelan said her dismissal leaves him concerned.
“I worry. I worry for whats going to happen for public safety in Oakland given this circumstance. Whoever comes and takes over has significant challenges putting aside the political mayhem that’s taking place at city hall behind this decision,” said Donelan.
Rocky Lucia, the union’s attorney, said the gathering for Kirkpatrick was impressive because it was only announced a few hours beforehand and was attended by both sworn and non-sworn officers, such as technicians.
Lucia, who was been the union’s attorney for many years, said the gathering was the largest he’s seen except for occasions when officers were killed in the line of duty.
Not only does the Oakland Police Commission have the power to terminate a police chief, it also will play a significant role in hiring a new chief.
Juliette Goodrich contributed to this report.
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