Kensington police chief ousted after stolen gun scandal

KENSINGTON, Calif. (KTVU) -- The small East Bay community of Kensington that was recently rocked by a police department controversy has taken a major step to change course by ousting the current chief of police.

The town's Board of Directors voted to get rid of the Kensington Police Chief Greg Harman because of a string of controversies that culminated with an incident that could be called "The Cop, the Prostitute and the Gun."

Nestled in the hills between Berkeley and El Cerrito, the town of Kensington is not even officially a town.

"Many people like to refer to it as 'Mayberry RFD' or our little hamlet," said town board president Len Welsh.

It's the kind of place where residents know the police. They always expect officers on their best behavior, and when things don't go as expected, they want accountability.

"The board failed to notify the community about what was going on," said resident Simon Brafman.

On Monday night at a special meeting, the Kensington board of directors voted to remove Harman in late spring.

"There's a sense in the community that he's lost the community's confidence," says Len Welsh.

The final straw was his handling of the case of an off-duty officer's rendezvous with a Reno prostitute in which his gun, badge and handcuffs were stolen.

"I think a pretty substantial shock to a lot of people," said resident Glenn Christ. Regarding the officer who lost his gun, Christ added, "I think he should find another job."

The officer got his gun back, but not before the prostitute's pimp shot himself in the leg with it.

"I'm very unhappy about how long it took to resolve that. It's not the way we usually do business here," said Welsh.

In downtown Kensington, residents seemed convinced that ousting the chief is the right move.

"I'm just glad that finally people are looking into irregularities that have been going on for a long time," said Susan Da Silva.

"It seems to me that whenever you engender this kind of public media crisis, that's not going to be good for your job longevity. Let's put it that way," added resident Andy Spear.

KTVU asked to speak to Chief Harman and was told he was out of the office all day and inaccessible.

The officer who lost his gun was suspended, but not fired.