OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Former Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick on Wednesday filed a complaint against the city over her firing in February, alleging she was removed in retaliation for exposing misconduct among members of the city’s Police Commission.
Kirkpatrick’s whistleblower complaint alleges commissioners sought personnel records they were prevented from accessing, routinely sought special treatment from police, and bullied and abused department staffers.
“Put simply, the Police Commission is out of control,” the complaint states. “Commissioners routinely seek access to legally protected Oakland Police Department (“OPD”) personnel records, to which they are not entitled and to which they have no lawful right of access. “Commissioners corruptly look for special treatment from OPD in their personal affairs. They frequently abuse OPD staff and interfere in day-to-day operations.”
The filing comes a day after Kirkpatrick told KPIX 5 her ouster from the police department’s top post was an illegal and discriminatory firing by the city’s police commission, which is seeking full control of the department.
“With more power now they’re going to be truly jeopardizing community safety and these police officer safety and I’m not gonna be quiet about it,” Kirkpatrick told KPIX 5. “I’m going to stand up and speak out.”
The complaint, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, seeks damages for lost wages and future earnings.
According to the filing, “The Police Commission and Mayor orchestrated Chief Kirkpatrick’s termination in retaliation for the Chief’s repeated whistleblowing.”
The complaint states that Kirkpatrick submitted at least seven reports of inappropriate and unlawful conduct to the city attorney’s office, the city administrator and Mayor Schaaf. The alleged incidents include commissioners intimidating low-level OPD employees to steer resources to their districts, a commissioner allegedly berating OPD staff over a ticket and vehicle towing, and allegedly seeking confidential records related to the internal investigation of the fatal police shooting of Joshua Pawlik, a homeless man sleeping while in possession of a gun.
On February 20, the civilian police commission voted unanimously to fire Kirkpatrick without cause after three years into the job. Commission chair Regina Jackson said at the time the commission had lost confidence in Kirkpatrick. Mayor Libby Schaaf said it was her duty to heed the commission’s request to fire Kirkpatrick.
The seven volunteer members of the Oakland Police Commission have the power to fire a police chief without cause with the mayor’s approval, the only U.S. police commission to have such power.
“Oakland is a debacle on their police commission.” Kirkpatrick told KPIX 5. “I certainly do not think the commission should have more power I don’t even think they should have the power that they have today.”