A suburban Seattle town will pay more than $1.5 million to settle a dispute with a former deputy police chief who was disciplined for displaying a Nazi rank insignia on his office door and joking about the Holocaust.
Former Kent Police Deputy Chief Derek Kammerzell, who had worked for the department for nearly three decades, was initially granted two weeks unpaid leave after the 2020 incident. Outraged locals and members of the Jewish community prompted Mayor Dana Ralph to put Kammerzell on paid administrative leave and demand his resignation.
The city’s attempt to essentially discipline Kammerzell a second time led to a dispute between his attorneys and the city that appeared to be heading towards litigation. But the city’s acting chief administrative officer, Arthur “Pat” Fiztpatrick, who is also the city attorney, said Friday that the city had resolved the issue through negotiation, the Seattle Times reported.
Ralph, in calling for Kammerzell’s resignation in January, acknowledged that the decision to revisit the discipline issue “would likely come at a high cost.” The city said Friday it would pay him $1,520,000 to resign.
If the city had simply fired him, officials said, he likely would have gotten his job back through arbitration due to federal and state labor laws.
An internal investigation concluded that Kammerzell knew the meaning of the insignia he placed above the nameplate on his office door in September 2020 – that of an “obergruppenfuhrer” – a senior official in the paramilitary Schutzstaffel of Hitler, or SS, who was responsible for the systematic murders of millions of Jews and others in Europe during World War II.
The badge was removed after four days when a detective from the Investigations Office, commanded by Kammerzell, filed a complaint.
Kammerzell was also heard joking about the Holocaust, according to the internal investigation.
Messages left by the newspaper for Kammerzell’s lawyer and the Kent Police Officers Association were not immediately returned.