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City near Seattle to pay $1.5M to police chief who displayed Nazi insignia and joked about Holocaust

A city in the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area will pay $1.52 to settle a dispute with a former police chief who was disciplined for displaying the Nazi insignia on his office door in September 2020.

Derek Kammerzell is a former assistant police chief in Kent, a city about 20 miles south of Downtown Seattle, and the sixth-largest in Washington state.

He was first disciplined in July 2021, following complaints that he had placed an insignia used by high-ranking generals in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich on his office door, according to the Seattle Times.

An internal investigation also found he was overheard joking about the Holocaust, saying that his grandfather had died after getting drunk and falling out of a Nazi guard tower. He also acknowledged he once shaved his facial hair into a “Hitler mustache.”

The 27-year department veteran was initially given two weeks of unpaid leave following the incident. That wasn’t enough for outraged members of the Jewish community, who continued to pressure Mayor Dana Ralph to do more.

In January, the mayor placed Kammerzell on paid administrative leave and demanded his resignation. However, that second attempt at disciplining him led to a dispute between his lawyers and the city.

Interim Chief Administrative Officer Arthur “Pat” Fiztpatrick, who is also the city attorney, said Kammerzell had initially demanded $3.1 million to resign.

On Friday, he announced that after months of negotiations, the city had agreed to pay him $1,520,000 to resign.

City 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,” Fitzpatrick said Friday in a news release.

“It was clear the assistant chief would have significant difficulty being an effective leader in the Department and in the community, and that his presence would have distracted from the mission of the Department,” he added.

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