The decision was made unanimously by the police commission and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf during a closed session.
Shortly after her termination, Kirkpatrick indicated retaliation was behind the firing. She believed she lost her job because she refused to reimburse commissioner Ginale Harris for towing fees. According an internal, confidential memo from 2018 reviewed by KTVU, the chief told the city that Harris “demanded” that she receive reimbursement for towing fees. Regardless of the demand, the chief “refused to provide any special treatment” to Harris.
Kirkpatrick said Thursday that she will file a lawsuit against the city, and has retained a prominent San Francisco law firm to represent her.
Her announcement came as the Oakland Police Department’s former federal compliance director became the latest person to publicly blast the monitor overseeing the police department, East Bay Times reported.
At a news conference Thursday morning, Kirkpatrick said in her three years atop the Oakland Police Department, she took concerns about “inappropriate behavior” to various administrators within City Hall.
“I am not one who thinks you settle everything through legal routes,” Kirkpatrick said. “But I will tell you today, I have made that decision. I am going to have to go forward through legal action.”
Kirkpatrick has retained Keker Van Nest & Peters of San Francisco, she said Thursday.
According to reports, there were months of tension between the independent citizen board and Kirkpatrick prior to her termination.
In interviews with East Bay Times after Kirkpatrick’s termination, former Oakland chiefs Howard Jordan and Sean Whent, as well as former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, have questioned monitor Robert Warshaw’s handling of OPD’s federal oversight program, now in its 17th year. Moreover, Jordan joined Kirkpatrick at her news conference Thursday.
In a stunning development, Thomas Frazier, who was Oakland’s compliance director and worked alongside Warshaw until 2014, joined in the criticism of Warshaw, saying the monitor “saw me as a threat to his million-dollar-a-year gig.”
In 2014, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson removed Frazier as compliance director and gave Warshaw the position. Warshaw was hired as monitor in 2010, but his appointment as the department’s compliance director also greatly expanded his authority over the department.
Giving Warshaw both jobs, Frazier wrote in a statement Thursday, “created a conflict of interest.” Fraizer’s statement, which is believed to be his first public comments since his 2014 ouster, was released at Chief Kirkpatrick’s news conference.
“I am absolutely confident that I could have had the Oakland Police Department in compliance,” Frazier wrote in a statement. “I was six to eight months from completing the task when my contract was not renewed, I believe, at the behest of Robert Warshaw.
“Warshaw did his best to discredit me with the federal judge, which led to my departure. Clearly, he has continued to keep Oakland from ever reaching compliance because that would eliminate his job and his paycheck.”
Furthermore, Councilman Noel Gallo, who last week called on the federal government to take a closer look at the department’s oversight, plans to go to Washington, D.C., to speak with those officials in person.
“This monitor’s actions have vastly affected the dedicated and courageous officers of our police department,” Gallo said. “The monitor has caused extensive demoralization of the department to the extent that our citizens’ public safety is at risk at no fault of our officers.”
The Oakland police union opposed the political decision and expressed disappointment when Kirkpatrick was terminated.
“Chief Anne Kirkpatrick was a well-respected leader of the Oakland Police Department and was making significant progress in bringing stability to OPD,” Oakland Police Officers’ Association President Barry Donelan said in a statement. “But fighting for Oakland’s residents and Police Officers alike does not endear you to Oakland’s unelected Police Commissioners and our Mayor.”
Kirkpatrick did not say when she would file suit, or who would be named as defendants. Keker Van Nest & Peters also represents the city of Oakland, Alameda County and the Coliseum Authority, most notably in the ongoing legal battle against the Golden State Warriors over a roughly $40 million debt the authority says the team owes.
Having attorney John Keker represent Kirkpatrick required a waiver from the Oakland City Attorney’s Office, which did so this week. The firm practices wrongful termination cases but is better known for representing big names, such as Google, Major League Baseball and celebrities.