This story made my head explode, and for once, it was worth it. I LOVE this story! It touches on so much…idiocy,incompetence, dead ethics alarms, unions, a soupçon of “The Producers,” incredible excuses and more—I don’t want to give away the one detail that made me laugh out loud yet. And perhaps best of all, it comes out of Washington state, one of the epicenters of The Great Stupid.
I am going to try to relate the tale without giggling, and then I’ll have some observations at the end. Alert: my telling may contain a bit of sarcasm here and there. I’m sorry. I can’t resist.
In Kent, Washington, a King County suburb of Seattle, Mayor Dana Ralph (D) apologized profusely to her city in a 30 minute video. Why? Well, she admitted that her administration badly mis-estimated what the public’s reaction would be to the town’s decision not to fire Assistant Chief Derek Kammerzell, and to instead suspend him for two weeks while allowing him to treat the time off as a vacation, meaning that he was paid. You can understand why the mayor and her staff would be blindsided by the outrage; after all, all Kammerzell did was show every sign of being a Nazi.
All right, that may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but not much. An investigation that began in September of 2020 after a complaint lodged by a member of the police force determined that Kammerzell, a 27-year Kent police veteran,
- posted the rank insignia of a Nazi “obergruppenfuhrer“ over his name plate on his office door.
- referred to himself by that rank , which was one of the highest in the Third Reich held by officials of the SS, which oversaw the concentration camps and the “Final Solution.”
- shaved his facial hair at one point into a Hitler mustache, and—this is the point where I laughed out loud…
- had himself photographed in lederhosen while giving a Nazi salute during the city’s 2019 Oktoberfest celebration!
- He also joked with colleagues that his grandfather died in the Holocaust by falling drunk out of a Nazi guard tower! HAR!
In addition to the enforced paid vacation, Kammerzell was required to undergo cultural sensitivity training. That should teach him…
The investigation report written by outside attorney Krista Slosburg of the Seattle firm Stokes Lawrence had concluded the allegations about Kammerzell were likely true, and the city’s official reaction was “No biggie!” This did not go down well. A citizen’s watchdog group called No Secret Police, obtained documents from the investigation through public disclosure, and criticism of Kent’s resolution of the matter in July of 2021 came from as far away as Germany and Israel.
Mayor Ralph has now, finally, called for Kammerzell’s resignation, and is working hard to blame her decision on the police union. A lawyer hired by the city had warned that any discipline that complied with the Kent Police Officers Association contract would be subject to the state’s binding arbitration requirements for public employees. The city was advised that firing Kammerzell would risk him being reinstated, especially since the arbitrator’s last name is Joey Goering.
(All right, I’m kidding about the arbitrator.)
Now the city fears that imposing additional discipline in a case that was declared resolved last summer will result in it having to pay damages for violating the union contract.
In her video mea culpa, the mayor says that she “took this incident extremely seriously from the start,” but “really underestimated the reaction, what would happen.”
She really never suspected that allowing a Nazi fan to stay in a leadership position on the force would cause much negative feedback. To be fair, this is Washington, after all. Now, if Kammerzell had a Confederate flag on his door, sang “Dixie” in the halls and trimmed his white beard like Robert E. Lee, it would have been a much easier decision to fire him.
1. The mayor and the Police Chief should resign of be fired. Their dead ethics alarms, cowardice and stupidity isn’t as disqualifying as being an open Nazi sympathizer, but its is still indefensible.
2. Did a lawyer really advise that the police union would go to the mat to protect a police officer who was photographed giving the Nazi salute? What terrible and incompetent advice! And the mayor didn’t have the courage and common sense to see how wrong it was. Astounding.
3. This is no First Amendment situation, because the Assistant Chief brought his Nazi-loving ways into the workplace. He could be a closet SS officer as long as his hobby stayed in the closet and his official conduct didn’t reflect it. But the guy was open about his Nazi admiration. What was the chief doing during all of this?
4. Kammerzell told investigators he didn’t understand the significance of the SS rank, which he said he was inspired to use after watching the television series “Man in the High Castle,” an alternate history about the world after Hitler prevails in WWII—you know, a light-hearted fantasy. The investigation concluded Kammerzell’s explanation wasn’t credible.
5. Back to the mayor: how credible is her statement that she took the episode sufficiently seriously? Furthermore, her statement that ‘we wouldn’t have done this if we knew how upset people would get’ is signature significance for a weak, principle-free, poll-following hack. If it was the right decision, it doesn’t matter if the public opposed it. If it was wrong (to allow a Nazi to remain in a leadership position in the police force!!!), she shouldn’t have required a public outrage to act.
6 thoughts on “It’s Only January 11, And Yet This Might Already Be The Ethics Story Of The Year: The Nazi-Loving Police Chief”
I can’t stop hearing “Springtime for Hitler” in my head now.
That entire group has lost their ability to see right from wrong. Sad but not surprising. So many people are happy to look the other way and hope someone else will do something.
Problem is, if you are the top of the totem pole it’s up to you to act.
I came so close to ending the post with that number!
Were they just confused because he didn’t look like Donald Trump?
I just don’t understand this story at all. A police chief has the responsibility to fully understand any hobby he chooses to bring into the workplace (or maybe just not bring hobbies into the workplace. I have a Star Trek uniform hanging in a spare room closet. Guess where I’ve never worn it?) . I find it incredible that a man his age would take his cue from a television show without grasping how idiotic that is.
I don’t believe his excuse. He has to have known what he was doing and thought that nothing would happen. That or he’s insane.
Dead ethics alarms, indeed. As Bugs Bunny would say, “What a maroon!”
I will use this story if any one questions why I left Washington state. By-the-way, only those in Washington state question why I moved, everyone here in Texas just laughs and says welcome when I admit where I am from.
I don’t know how much risk this guy’s “hobby” posed to the community, but his stupidity seems seems to be at a seriously dangerous level.