Firing Oakland police chief was 'personally difficult,' mayor tells new police officers

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland graduated a class of 30 new police officers today.

But in an odd twist, graduation came less than a day after the mayor and police commission fired Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick in a surprise meeting Thursday night.

RELATED: Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick out after commission votes unanimously to fire her

Mayor Libby Schaaf spoke briefly about the termination before the 30 rookie cops were sworn in.

"My decision yesterday was extremely personally difficult for me. But I made it because I believe it was in the best interest of Oakland," Schaaf said.

The mayor and the city's civilian police commission voted unanimously in a special meeting Thursday night to terminate Kirkpatrick who will get one year's pay as severance.

"Leaders will come and go," the mayor said. "I'm on my way out in a little more than two years myself. But the mission of this department, the strength of this family, the commitment to serve the people of Oakland has never wavered."

But leadership has teetered.

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The Oakland Police Department lost three chiefs in week several years ago in a scandal involving patrol officers having sex with a self described prostitute named Celeste Guap.

Kirkpatrick, Oakland's first female chief, was brought in to help deal with the fallout.

But it was clear that Kirkpatrick and the civilian police commission didn't see eye to eye on things like disciplining officers or complying with a federal court monitor overseeing the clean up of the department.

However Kirkpatrick was very popular with rank and file officers and had supporters in city government.

One of her supporters is city councilman Noel Gallo who says he thought she was doing a fine job.

"The timing was wrong, and the way we did it was totally uncalled for," Gallo said.

Assistant Chief Darren Allison will serve as acting head of the department while a nationwide search is launched for a new chief.

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