Police officer who used Nazi symbol and made Holocaust jokes will be paid over $1.5m to resign

The city of Kent, Washington, had suspended Derek Kammerzell for using Nazi symbol and making Holocaust jokes, but couldn’t fire him, so they had no choice but to pay for his resignation.

A former assistant police chief in the city of Kent, Washington, will be paid over $1.5 million by the municipality in order to make him resign.

Derek Kammerzell had posted the senior rank of a Nazi SS officer, that of an ‘Obergruppenführer’, on his office door. A complaint filed against him, but Kammerzell claimed the rank was taken from a character in the TV series Man in the High Castle. Nevertheless, an investigation said this wasn’t believable, since 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.

Originally, he was given a two-week-long suspension from work without pay for violating city policies, but the outcry against the mild punishment put the policeman on administrative leave and Kammerzell was asked to resign by the city. However, 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 of Kent said. “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.”

In addition, as a result of federal and state labor laws, in case of suspension, Kammerzell would likely have been able to use arbitration to get his job back with back pay. Therefore, the only option the city had was settling to essentially buy his resignation. Following an original request to be paid over $3 million, Kammerzell settled 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 of Kent said.


Photo credit: Stokes Lawrence law firm