California City Paying $1.5M to Fired Police Chief After Verdict

The Oakland City Council approved a $1.5 million payout for a former police chief who won her whistleblower claim against the city after she alleged she was fired for calling out unethical behavior by the civilian commission that oversees the police department.

The payout to Anne Kirkpatrick includes roughly $337,000 a federal jury awarded her, which is equivalent to a year’s salary and the severance she was entitled to as part of her employment contract. The remainder consists of legal costs, said Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker in a memo prepared for the council.

Kirkpatrick had sought more than $3 million in damages in her lawsuit. She said that members of the civilian oversight commission wanted special treatment, abused police staff and meddled in daily operations.

“I hope that the agreement in my favor is a signal to all who are witnesses to misconduct, especially those in law enforcement: do not stay silent,” Kirkpatrick said in a statement. “Our system depends on people who will do the right thing, even when it is the hard thing.”

Kirkpatrick was hired in 2017, the first woman to lead the police department for the city of 400,000. At the time, the department was reeling from a sex exploitation scandal involving a young woman.

But her relationship with the civilian oversight commission soured and in 2020, the commission and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf voted to terminate her employment without cause. At the time, they said Kirkpatrick was keeping information from the oversight commission and failing to meet federally mandated court reforms.

The city does not admit to any wrongdoing and denies her allegations, according to the memo.

The vote was unanimous although several council members voiced their displeasure.

“It’s just a waste of money,” said Dan Kalb, a councilmember.

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