New Oakland police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said Monday that reducing crime and restoring her department’s relationship with the community are two of her biggest goals.
Kirkpatrick, 57, who was sworn in to her new post this morning at a ceremony at Oakland City Hall, said she wants to “transform” the Police Department so that it develops “a model policing culture for America in every way.”
“I want to see the Oakland Police Department be the Super Bowl of American policing.”
Kirkpatrick is taking charge of a department that was wracked last year by a sexual misconduct scandal in which officers allegedly were involved with the teenage daughter of a police dispatcher, prompting a leadership crisis in which three chiefs resigned or were dismissed in the span of nine days.
City Administrator Sabrina Landreth has been overseeing the department since last June but is now surrendering the reins to Kirkpatrick.
Mayor Libby Schaaf said that despite the sexual misconduct scandal and other problems last year, the department actually has had “positive momentum in both safety and reforms.”
Schaaf cited the department’s recent 2016 end-of-year statistics that found violent crimes have been reduced by about 20 percent, while homicides and injury shootings have decreased by 40 percent.
She said that after a nationwide search, she chose Kirkpatrick to be Oakland’s new police chief because of her 34 years of experience in law enforcement, her skills and her “profound sense of justice and her training against implicit bias.”
Kirkpatrick, who was born in Memphis, until recently headed the Chicago Police Department’s reform efforts in its Bureau of Professional Standards and previously served as undersheriff in King County in the Seattle area and as police chief in Spokane, Washington.
She also served as chief in Federal Way, Washington, a Seattle suburb, and Ellensburg, Washington, and began her career as a police officer in Memphis in 1982.
Kirkpatrick told reporters that she wants to “transform” the Police Department rather than just “reform it”:
“Reform is not a bad work but it’s just a checklist of things to do. … I want to transform the department to emphasize the well-being of the community and our officers and staff.”
Kirkpatrick said she knows that she will face challenges as Oakland’s police chief but said:
“I’m not a quitter and there’s no quit in me.”