Seattle Police Chief Abruptly Retires After City Partially Defunds Department

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Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best abruptly announced her retirement on Monday evening after the city council voted to partially defund her department amid ongoing protests over police brutality and systemic racism.

“This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time,” Best wrote in a letter to Seattle Police Department staff. “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.”

Best had served as the city’s police chief since 2018 and was a 28-year veteran of the force. Her resignation came after the Seattle City Council voted to cut the police force budget by about $3.5 million — which could result in the loss of up to 100 officers — and reduce the wages of senior staff, including the chief, for the rest of the year.

The vote came amid ongoing calls to cut the police budget by up to 50% in the wake of racial justice protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. Those demonstrations continued in Seattle for weeks longer than other cities.

Mayor Jenny Durkan, who has faced fierce criticism for her handling of the protests as well, thanked Best and said she was “deeply” regretful the chief decided to leave.

“While I understand the Chief’s reasons, I accepted her decision with a very heavy heart,” Durkan said in a statement obtained by The Seattle Times. “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.”

In her letter on Monday, Best said that despite her opposition to the budget cuts, she was “grateful for the opportunity” to serve as the chief.

“You are my family,” she wrote. “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.”


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