Kent settles with former police chief over Nazi insignia

Jun 14, 2022, 9:37 AM

The city of Kent will pay more than $1.5 million dollars to settle a dispute with a former assistant police chief who was put on indefinite leave for displaying a Nazi insignia above his door and making ‘jokes’ about the holocaust.

Former Kent Assistant Police Chief Derek Kammerzell was disciplined in September 2020 for displaying the insignia of the ‘Obergruppenführer’ a high rank within the SS, a Nazi paramilitary group.

The insignia was left up for four days.

He was initially ordered to take two weeks off without pay as punishment, but was still allowed to use his vacation time to make up for the loss in salary, as well as attend ‘cultural sensitivity training.’

But, because of complaints from the public, Kent Mayor Dana Ralph demanded his resignation and put him on paid administrative leave in December 2021.

That action led to a dispute the city says was resolved by it paying Kammerzell $1,520,000 to resign.

Brian Suits spoke about the issue on his show, having had personal experience with Kammerzell himself back in his time in the army infantry.

“So Kent says goodbye to [Kammerzell’s] 27 years or performance without any discipline, any allegations of excessive force during his career, and no known complaints from the community,” Suits said on KTTH this morning. “I served with Derek Kammerzell in my infantry battalion in Iraq, and I know him to be a spiffing bloke and an upright chap, and if he wants to stay in law enforcement… I’m sure some community in Montana is gonna be very, very pleased with the new chief Kammerzell.”

In a statement released from the city of Kent, they recognized the high amount paid to Kammerzell but insisted that it was the best way forward past the incident without risking reinstatement  in an extended legal suit with the police union.

“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,” the statement said. “It was clear the Assistant Chief would have significant difficulty being an effective leader in the Department of Community, and that his presence would distract from the mission of the Department. The Police Department is prepared to move on. With this backdrop, City Councilmembers have expressed support for this decision.”

Gee & Ursula: Apology for handling of Kent police officer who posted Nazi emblem fixes little

On the Gee and Ursula show, guest host Spike O’Neill spoke to the city’s decision to end the settlement quickly and without the risk of the city loosing their case.

“This was a decision to not fight that because fighting this could cost the city much, much more,” Ralph said. “And we have legal fees and potential lost case. So they made a business decision to give this guy a million and a half to go away for being a Nazi. So as a citizen of Kent, are you happy that you had to spend more than a million dollars to get this guy off your books and out of your life and out of your community? Or would you rather spend like 3 million to fight it so he gets nothing?


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Kent settles with former police chief over Nazi insignia