Former Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick has been chosen to lead the Oakland, California, Police Department.
Oakland has been without a police chief for seven months, and Kirkpatrick will be charged with restoring confidence in an agency reeling from a sex scandal involving officers. She will be Oakland’s first female police chief.
Kirkpatrick led the Spokane Police Department through a turbulent period from September 2006 to January 2012, when the city and the department were dealing with the fallout from the death of Otto Zehm. She had strong support from city officials and police brass but clashed with the police union over her discipline of officers.
After leaving Spokane, Kirkpatrick was hired as chief deputy at the King County Sheriff’s Office and retired in 2014. She spent time as a Seattle-based instructor with the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, a private organization that contracts with the FBI for training services.
In June, she was named to lead the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Professional Standards after being passed over as the department’s superintendent.
In Chicago, she took on a newly created job implementing recommendations from the city’s Police Accountability Task Force. Her departure came as a surprise to the city, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.
Kirkpatrick enters a department that has seen turmoil since a sex scandal became public in June.
When introduced Wednesday afternoon during a news conference in Oakland, she hinted that she has wanted to move to Oakland for some time, though she did not explain why. Asked why she would leave one department beset by challenges for the chance to lead another entrenched in controversy, the veteran police leader said she welcomed the challenge.
“I don’t consider it a mess,” said Kirkpatrick, who has been a police officer for more than 30 years. “I consider it an opportunity.”
In Oakland, Kirkpatrick faces the task of cleaning up a culture that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff once likened to a “frat house.”
Prosecutors have charged seven current and retired San Francisco Bay Area officers for their alleged involvement with a teen, including several from Oakland. Two officers have been charged with having sex with the teen.
Three Oakland police chiefs and four officers have been fired or quit since.
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