A US police chief is set to receive more than $1.5 million in a dispute settlement after he was disciplined for posting a Nazi insignia on his office door and making jokes about the Holocaust.
In 2020, authorities were notified that former Kent Assistant Police Chief Derek Kammerzell had placed a symbol of the SS Obergruppenfuhrer – one of the Third Reich's paramilitary ranks – above his nameplate.
Four days later the sign was taken down after a detective in the investigations bureau headed by Kammerzell issued a complaint.
Although the disgraced officer claimed he didn't know what the insignia meant, investigators discovered he'd previously made inappropriate jokes about Nazis.
An assistant police chief in Kent, Washington, posted Nazi insignia on his office door, above his nameplate.— Ken Armstrong (@bykenarmstrong) January 4, 2022
The oak leaves and diamonds signified the rank of “obergruppenführer" in Hitler's Schutzstaffel, or SS.
by @stimesmcarter @seattletimeshttps://t.co/vJGJNkaLlS pic.twitter.com/wngm8AXPYU
According to the Seattle Times, he'd shaved his facial hair into a 'Hitler moustache' and also used to joke that his grandfather had died in the Holocaust after 'getting drunk and falling out of a guard tower'.
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph and Police Chief Rafael Padilla both backed the decision for Kammerzell to be placed on unpaid leave for two weeks in July 2021.
However, when the story made international news, there was public outcry from people calling on Kammerzell to resign, with many feeling the disciplinary action was not enough.
Amid outrage from Kent citizens and members of the Jewish community, Ralph demanded for the officer to step down from his position within the police force.
But in attempting to take action against Kammerzell for a second time, a bitter dispute between his legal team and the city appeared to be headed for a lawsuit.
On Friday, 10 June, interim city Chief Administrative Officer Arthur 'Pat' Fiztpatrick revealed the issue had been resolved through negotiation – the result being a $1,520,000 payout to Kammerzell for his resignation.
In a lengthy statement released yesterday, the City of Kent wrote: “When he was placed on leave, we made a statement that he would not be returned to work.
"We also noted that under federal and state law, the city was unable to terminate the assistant chief or otherwise change the discipline imposed based on double jeopardy principles. As a result, we noted that his resignation would come at a high cost to the city.”
The statement added that the former police chief assistant had originally requested more than $3 million in the settlement.
“While this is a substantial sum, we strongly believe that settling this matter will be a substantial step towards meeting our commitment to the community and continuing with the excellent work the police department is doing,” it continued.
“It was clear that the Assistant Chief would have significant difficulty being an effective leader in the department and the community, and that his presence would distract from the mission of the department.”
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]