Police officer who used Nazi symbol paid over $1.5m. to resign

The city had suspended Derek Kammerzell but couldn't fire him, so they had no choice but to pay for his resignation.

  (photo credit: Photo credit: Stokes Lawrence law firm)
(photo credit: Photo credit: Stokes Lawrence law firm)

A former assistant police chief in the city of Kent, Washington, who was disciplined for having a Nazi symbol on his door and making Holocaust jokes will be paid over $1.5 million by the municipality in order to resign, local media reported.

The background

Derek Kammerzell  had posted the senior rank of a Nazi SS officer, that of an Obergruppenführer, on his office door and had a complaint filed against him, according to the Seattle Times, which reported on the matter back in January 2022.

In his defense, Kammerzell had claimed the rank was taken from a character in the TV series Man in the High Castle, but an investigation said this wasn't believable, according to the newspaper.

An investigation also revealed that Kammerzell had shaved his facial hair into a Hitler mustache, performed what seemed to be a Nazi "heil Hitler" salute and made jokes about the Holocaust, according to the Times.

German Fuhrer Adolph Hitler doing a Nazi salute (credit: Wikimedia Commons)German Fuhrer Adolph Hitler doing a Nazi salute (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Originally, he was given a two-week suspension without pay as posting the insignia violated city policies. However, the outcry against a seemingly lenient punishment saw the policeman put on administrative leave and asked to resign by the city. But the city was unable to simply fire him.

“When he was placed on leave, we made a statement that he would not be returned to work,” the city said, according to local news outlet KIRO 7. “We also noted that under federal and state law, the city was unable to terminate the assistant chief or otherwise change the discipline imposed based on double jeopardy principles. As a result, we noted that his resignation would come at a high cost to the city.”

“We also noted that under federal and state law, the city was unable to terminate the assistant chief or otherwise change the discipline imposed based on double jeopardy principles. As a result, we noted that his resignation would come at a high cost to the city.”

The city of Kent

In addition, had the city decided to just fire Kammerzell, he would likely have been able to use arbitration to get his job back, with back pay, as a result of federal and state labor laws, the Seattle Times reported.

The settlement

The only option the city had was settling to essentially buy his resignation

Originally, Kammerzell asked for over $3 million but according to KIRO 7, eventually, the city managed to get him to settle for $1,520,000

“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 city said, according to local media.