Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced she will step down from her position on Sept. 2 following criticism of the police department and Monday’s city council votes to reduce the size and scope of the law enforcement agency.
“This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time,” Best wrote Monday night in a letter addressing the department.
Best, who served in the Seattle Police Department for almost 30 years, became interim chief in 2018, The Seattle Times reported.
“I am confident the department will make it through these difficult times,” Best wrote.
“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.”
Best’s announcement came after the city council voted Monday to rebalance Seattle’s 2020 budget by shrinking the police department by up to 100 officers through layoffs and attrition, and cutting the wages of the department’s command staff between September and December, according to The Seattle Times.
Democratic Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Best opposed some of Monday’s decisions and asked the council to hold off on changes that could be hard to carry out quickly.
Council member Teresa Mosqueda said before the vote that the council needed to act “with urgency” and work toward the demands of many Black Lives Matter protesters to eventually defund the police department by 50 percent.
“What’s important about today is that we haven’t just said, ‘No.’ We are walking with community.”
In her own note to the police department, Durkan said she accepted Best’s decision “with a very heavy heart.”
“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,” the mayor wrote.
“I regret deeply that she concluded that the best way to serve the city and help the department was a change in leadership, in the hope that would change the dynamics to move forward with the City Council.”
In an emailed statement in response to Best’s resignation, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County lamented the police chief’s decision.
“It does nothing to further our fight for authentic police accountability and the safety of Black lives, that 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. Racism is racism,” the group said in a statement.
“We demand the Seattle City Council stop prioritizing performative action that solely suggests the appearance of change. We demand transparency and accountability for the series of actions and inactions that led to Chief Best’s resignation. And we demand a successor that serves Black Lives.”
The chief’s letter did not say specifically why Best chose to leave the department at this time.
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