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Kent mayor asks for assistant police chief's resignation for displaying Nazi insignia

An assistant police chief and 27-year veteran of the Kent Police Department was disciplined for displaying a Nazi insignia on his office door.

KENT, Wash. — An assistant police chief and 27-year veteran of the Kent Police Department was disciplined for displaying a Nazi insignia on his office door. That discipline, Kent's mayor said Tuesday, does not go far enough.

The display was discovered in September 2020 and reported to the police department. 

Assistant Police Chief Derek Kammerzell received a two-week suspension for violating city policies which prohibit harassment, disclination and unbecoming conduct. Kammerzell could either take it as a suspension with unpaid time off or use vacation time to cover the suspension, according to the Notice of Discipline document.

During the city council meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Dana Ralph said she has instructed the city attorney to reach out to the police union's attorney to ask for Kammerzell's resignation. 

"While there will be a cost associated with this, I believe this is a necessary step to build trust within our city and across the region," Ralph said.

Ralph said the process did "not produce the results acceptable to our community" or herself.

An independent investigation includes a photo that shows a Nazi insignia placed above Kammerzell's name next to his office door. In addition to the display there were also allegations that he made jokes about the Holocaust.

Kammerzell, who began a career with Kent Police in 1994, also has a military background. According to internal affairs documents, some in the police department would refer to him as the "German General" because of his last name and ancestry.

When Kammerzell was questioned about the Nazi insignia, he allegedly replied, "I stuck it on my door as part of this ongoing joke thing ... I did not know this thing was associated just with a Nazi thing."

"The insignia is a symbol of hatred and bigotry that we as a community, and certainly, we hope that the police are stamping out instead of fostering," said Karen Treiger, an author and volunteer in Seattle's Jewish community.

Treiger has shared her own family's story in a book called "My Soul is Filled with Joy: A Holocaust Story."

She wants Assistant Chief Kammerzell to know that the symbols he once had on display on his office door are a reminder of so much pain.

"If we don't recognize the symbols of hatred, and if we don't recognize them and put them in the right place, which is not on your door. It normalizes it, and I would like him to know that that's not the it's not the world that I want to live in," Treiger said.

According to city documents, in addition to the two-week suspension, Kammerzell was ordered to take cultural sensitivity training and he did verbally apologized during his pre-disciplinary/ Loudermill hearing.

Messages requesting an interview with Assistant Chief Kammerzell went unanswered on Tuesday.

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