City of Kent reaches $1.5 million settlement with former assistant police chief over Nazi insignia

The City of Kent reached a $1.5 million settlement with an assistant police chief who was put on leave for posting a Nazi insignia on his office door and joking about the Holocaust.

Assistant Chief Derek Kammerzell was given two weeks off without pay by Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla in July after an internal investigation concluded that Kammerzell knew the meaning of an insignia he posted above the nameplate on his office door in September 2020 — that of an SS "obergruppenfuhrer," one of the senior-most ranks in the Third Reich.

The insignia was taken down after four days when a detective in the investigations bureau, which Kammerzell commanded, filed a complaint.

Kammerzell previously oversaw the department’s patrol division.

In addition to the two weeks without pay — during which Kammerzell was allowed to take paid vacation to make up his salary — he was ordered to attend "cultural sensitivity training."

After an outcry from the community, Kammerzell was placed on paid administrative leave and asked to resign in December 2021.

On June 10, 2022, the City of Kent wrote in a statement:

"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 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."

See the full statement here:

Kammerzell previously told The Kent Reporter in an email that he is "deeply embarrassed by this incident."

"I wish I could take it back. I know now what that rank represents, and that is not what I value or who I am," he said.

Kammerzell said years ago someone in the department began to refer to him as the "German general" due to his Germanic heritage and he embraced the nickname.