Embattled Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best will retire effective on September 2. She did so after the Seattle City council voted to cut the police budget severely on Monday in order to “re-envision” public safety. But there are likely many personal issues that led to her decision to step down. The Mayor said her retirement was in hopes of “changing the dynamic” with the council.
The final straw reportedly came after the council voted for a severe pay cut 40% of her salary and that of her top police officers without any discussion. The council also received a proposal to lay off as many as 100 officers in order to placate the defund-the-police activists’ demands.
Best wrote in an email to the entire Seattle Police Department (excerpt):
“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 look forward to how this department moves forward through the process of re-envisioning public safety.” Carmen Best
#BREAKING: This is the full e-mail Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best sent to the entire Seattle Police Department at 9:32 tonight, stating she’ll be retiring from SPD, effective September 2nd, 2020. She writes, “I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as your chief.” pic.twitter.com/bEM0VOllw8
— Preston Phillips (@PrestonTVNews) August 11, 2020
Crosscut noted her prior service:
Born in Tacoma, Best joined the Army out of college in eastern Washington. After serving in South Korea and then at Fort Lewis south of Tacoma, she entered the police academy.
Over nearly 30 years in Seattle, Best has held a range of positions, including patrol supervisor, watch commander, operations lieutenant and public information officer.
Best was the first Black woman to serve as Chief in Seattle. According to Crosscut, she was originally not on the list of finalists for the position, but when community groups caused an uproar, she was placed back on the list and ultimately hired. It was hoped that her being Black would be a buffer zone between activists and the Council because she was well known in the community and had been on the police force since 1992.
But 2020 has been a year of upheaval – and though she previously stayed out of the limelight, she could not do so this year. The decision to abandon the police precinct that led to the formation of “CHOP” may not have been hers, but it polarized both sides of the political equation.
When a number of so-called “protesters” (Antifa) showed up at her home in Snohomish, Washington on August 4, they were seen to have cement chunks in the back of a pickup and were likely intent on destruction. Best’s neighbors encountered the protesters and attempted to stop them. Police were summoned and stopped anything else from occurring, stating that it was a “bullying tactic” on the part of the “protesters.” (KOMO).
Carmen Best is a mother, and soon to be Grandmother. Perhaps she’d like to be away from the constant barrage of politics that has plagued her now for months. She had a long career in law enforcement, but as she said, “When it’s time, it’s time.”
Featured photo: screenshot of Chief Best via KIRO7