Best’s resignation comes after the Seattle City Council voted to cut spending for the Seattle Police Department on Monday.
SEATTLE — Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced that she will be retiring next month.
The news of Best’s resignation was on the same day the Seattle City Council voted to cut spending for the Seattle Police Department (SPD).
Best has been dealing with issues regarding police brutality nationally, as well as police use of force during Seattle protests, and navigating the federal consent decree.
Best also had protesters come to her Snohomish County house, creating tension with neighbors.
KING 5 Chief Political Reporter Chris Daniels is tracking matters at City Hall and said Best’s resignation is due to council actions, including a proposed massive pay cut, plus the council’s refusal to denounced marches to her house.
Best said she was not included in any city council discussions regarding budget cuts and changes to the department she runs. Best will resign Sept. 2.
Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz will be appointed as the interim chief of police effective Sept. 3. The interim position does not require council confirmation.
Best has been with SPD for 28 years. She was the first Black police chief in Seattle’s history. She took on the role of chief of police on Aug. 13, 2018.
In a letter to the department, Chief Best wrote:
“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.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued a response, saying in part:
“Know that while I understand the Chief’s reasons, I accepted her 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. These last months, I knew Chief Best was the person to lead our city through this challenging time, to reimagine policing and community safety. Her leadership is unmatched nationwide, which is why it is a sad day for our City to lose her.
“Carmen Best is still devoted to this department and our city. 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.”
The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce criticized the city council following the news of Best’s retirement, saying the council chose “divisive rhetoric over responsible governance” that “cost our city a respected leader.”