The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle is slamming the suburb of Kent, Washington’s police force for the way it handled the case of an assistant police chief who was suspended for posting a Nazi military symbol on his office doorplate.
In late July, assistant Kent Police Chief Derek Kammerzell was suspended for two weeks and had to undergo cultural sensitivity training for contravening a city ordinance against harassment and discrimination and also for unbecoming conduct that violated police policy.
The insignia placed by Kammerzell, a 27-year veteran of the Kent police, on his door appeared to be that of the Nazi rank of SS-Obergruppenfuhrer, Seattle Weekly reported
The officer’s notice of discipline was issued on July 14 but the incident only came to light in late December after the city of Kent responded to a request for public records made by the group “No Secret Police.” Kammerzell had been on paid leave while the investigation was being conducted.
The Federation said in a statement that they were “horrified” to learn about the incident and that Kent city official need to publicly address the situation.
“The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and its Jewish Community Relations Council are horrified to learn of the actions of Assistant Kent Police Chief Derek Kammerzell. By elevating and honoring Nazi imagery and titles and joking about the Holocaust, Kammerzell is supporting the extermination of six million Jews, including one million children, and five million other vulnerable individuals.”
The Federation’s statement called Kammerzell’s actions indefensible.
“This is an affront to the entire Puget Sound Jewish community and inexcusable,” the Federation said. “Synagogues, Jewish community centers, and Jewish organizations rely on law enforcement to help protect them from violent, antisemitic attacks.
They also called the assistant police chief’s punishment insufficient and said there was “shocking” lack of accountability on behalf of the police force.
“The two-week suspension and sensitivity training given in response are completely inadequate, especially at a time when incidents of hate against the Jewish people are higher than they’ve been in almost 45 years. The absence of true accountability demanded of Kammerzell and the sheer lack of consequences in this situation are shocking.”
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph and Police Chief Rafael Padilla previously said in a statement that they stood behind the force’s two-week suspension of Kammerzell, according to the Kent Reporter.
However, on Tuesday, Ralph called for Kammerzell to resign.
“This is honestly an issue that has rocked our community over the past several days,” Ralph said
The Federation demanded further action: “We call on the City of Kent to immediately revisit the situation, publicly recognize the harm and hurt caused to our Jewish community, and treat the offenses with the seriousness and care they deserve.”