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Seattle’s First Black Female Police Chief Resigns After Budget Cuts

Carmen Best announced plans to resign the same day the Seattle city council voted to cut the police force by up to 100 officers.


Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced Monday evening she is retiring, the same day the city council voted to slash police department funding.

“This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time,” Best said in an email to the police department. The first black woman to serve as police chief in Seattle, Best will step down on Sept. 2.

Best told local reporter Brandi Kruse that “she felt targeted by a ‘punitive’ proposal to cut her pay by 40%.”

“I do feel like it’s … animus toward me specifically,” she added.

The city council approved a plan Monday that included decreasing the size of the Seattle police department by up to 100 officers. Currently, the police force in Seattle totals about 1,400. The city council’s plan would also cut the salaries of some command staff, and break up a task force that was used to remove homeless camps.

Best and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan have expressed disapproval of the city council’s proposals. Using layoffs to decrease the force’s size, they insisted, would end up decreasing the police department’s diversity.

“We don’t want to lay off our newest recruits and our newest officers,” Durkan said. But labor rules require that “layoffs must be conducted by seniority, meaning that the youngest, most diverse officers would be the first to go.”

An email from Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County blamed the city council for Best’s resignation.

“The first Black woman to hold the position of Chief of Police of the Seattle Police Department has been forced out of her job by the Seattle City Council,” the statement said. “We demand the Seattle City Council stop prioritizing performative action that solely suggests the appearance of change.”

Mayor Jenny Durkan will give a press conference at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.