About 200 Oakland police officers gathered at their police union headquarters last week to say an emotional goodbye to police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, who was fired without cause Feb. 20 after three years on the job.
Kirkpatrick seemed touched by the outpouring of support on short notice, fighting back tears as officers hugged her and gave her flowers.
In brief comments to reporters, Kirkpatrick said, “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.”
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.”
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 Chairwoman 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 this past Tuesday that “the process in which she was 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.
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.