Seattle Police Chief to Resign Sept. 2, City Council Votes to Cut Police Budget

By Andrew Davenport | August 11, 2020 | 4:10pm EDT
Outgoing Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.  (Getty Images)
Outgoing Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. (Getty Images)

Carmen Best, the chief of police for Seattle, Wash., is resigning following the Seattle City Council’s decision to cut spending to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). On Monday, Best notified Seattle police by email of her resignation, which will be effective September 2. 

Best was the first black woman to serve as police chief for Seattle. Jason Rantz of KTTH Radio obtained the email from Best to the SPD.

The City Council’s decision on Monday to cut funding to the SPD included a $3 million reduction in the department’s annual budget, as well as a salary reduction for Police Chief Best and other top officers. 

Best’s email informing the department of her resignation came just hours after the City Council’s decision to cut funding, reported KIRO 7 News

In the email, Best said, “This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, its time.”

Best also thanked Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan for continuous support and voiced encouragement to the department moving forward. Deputy Police Chief Adrian Diaz will serve as the interim police chief, according to the email. 

In an interview with Q13Fox, Best said that she was not sure if the cut to her salary was “legally sound for them to do that.” 

Best added that she felt targeted by the council’s decision, saying, “It definitely feels very punitive. You know, that small amount of change of money is not overall going to have a great impact on the budget. This is more directed toward me, and I do feel that it is an area of animus toward me specifically.” 

Over the past few months, Best has been forced to handle significant unrest in Seattle.

In early June, Black Lives Matter and Antifa protestors battled police, forcing them to withdraw from Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, reported the Seattle Times.  Protestors then set up an autonomous zone in the Capitol Hill district of Seattle, commonly referred to as CHAZ or CHOP.  

In an address to officers in June, Best said that city leadership had failed the police department.  “You should know, leaving the precinct was not my decision,” she told the officers. 

 

After a second individual was killed in the autonomous zone, Mayor Durkan gave an executive order directing police to clear the autonomous zone.

In an email on Monday evening, Mayor Durkan wrote to the SPD in response to Best’s resignation, 

“While I understand the Chief’s reasons, I accepted her decision with a very heavy heart,” the email said. “I have had the privilege to be with Chief Carmen Best in so many situations: with her family, at roll calls, in community meetings, and in nearly weekly meetings addressing public safety in Seattle. Her grit, grace and integrity have inspired me and made our city better.”

 

Transcript of Police Chief Best’s email:

“To the Women and Men of the Seattle Police Department –

I wanted to notify you that I will be retiring from the Seattle Police Department, effective September 2nd, 2020. I wanted you to hear this from me, but some media have reached this conclusion on their own.

This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time.

I want to thank Mayor Durkan for her continuous support through good times and tough times.

I am confident the department will make it through these difficult times. You truly are the best police department in the country, and please trust me when I say, the vast majority of people in Seattle support you and appreciate you.

I am impressed daily at your skill, your compassion, and your dedication. I am thankful my command team has agreed to continue serving the department, and that Mayor Durkan has appointed Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz as the interim Chief of Police. Chief Diaz shares my commitment to this department and has the trust of the community.

I look forward to seeing how this department moves forward through the process of re-envisioning public safety. I relish the work that will be done by all of you.

After more than 28 years, I am so thankful for the time I spent at SPD. You are my family. You will always be in my heart. We have had tough times before and come out better on the other side. I am glad I pushed through each of those tough times with you.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as your Chief.

Remember to take care of one another.

Thank you

Carmen Best

Chief of Police”

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