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Washington City To Pay $1.5M For Resignation of Asst. Police Chief

The city of Kent, Wa., will pay more than $1.5 million to purchase the resignation of a former assistant police chief who was disciplined for posting a Nazi rank insignia on his office door and joking about the Holocaust, the Seattle Times reports. Former Assistant Chief Derek Kammerzell had been given two weeks off without pay for his actions, but an outraged response by Kent citizens and members of the Jewish community resulted in Mayor Dana Ralph's demanding Kammerzell’s resignation. The city’s attempt to discipline Kammerzell a second time led to a bitter dispute and standoff between his attorneys and the city that appeared headed for litigation. However, interim city Chief Administrative Officer Arthur “Pat” Fiztpatrick, who is the city attorney, said the city has resolved the matter through negotiation. Kammerzell, a 27-year department veteran, was disciplined in July 2021 after a detective complained that an insignia used by high-ranking generals in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich appeared on Kammerzell’s office door above his nameplate in September 2020. An internal investigation concluded that Kammerzell knew the meaning of the insignia, which belonged to an “Obergruppenfuhrer” — a high official in Hitler’s dreaded paramilitary Schutzstaffel or SS, which was responsible for the systematic murders of millions of Jews and others in Europe during World War II.

Ralph, in calling for Kammerzell’s resignation last January, acknowledged that the decision to revisit the discipline issue would likely “come at a high cost.” In a release Friday, the city said it would pay him $1,520,000 to resign. Fitzpatrick said that officials “strongly believe that settling this matter will be a substantial step toward meeting our commitment to the community and continuing with the excellent work the Police Department is doing.” Kammerzell has been on paid leave since January while the city and his attorneys tried to reach an agreement that would result in his departure and that would not force the city to rehire him over the double jeopardy and due process issues a termination would have raised. Had the city simply fired Kammerzell, officials said, he likely would have won his job back — with back pay — through arbitration under federal and state labor laws. Fitzpatrick noted that Kammerzell initially had demanded $3.1 million for his resignation. The final amount was the result of months of difficult negotiations, Fitzpatrick said.


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