Black Seattle Police Chief Quits After Council Votes to Defund Police

Demonstrations and budget cuts to the department led to her decision.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced Monday night (Aug. 10), that she will step down from her position after multiple protests over police brutality, frustration over the department’s response and the City Council vote to shrink the police force.

“This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time,” Best, the first African American woman to lead the department said in a statement. Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz will reportedly become interim chief.

The message did not specify the exact reason Best decided to leave her job, but the Seattle Times reports the City Council was under pressure from protesters and many in the community to defund the police department and reallocate funds to other public safety measures. The council passed budget amendments that were intended to lead to police officer layoffs.

Best, who took the position in 2018, has also been the subject of criticism after police use of tear gas several times during protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by former officer Derrick Chauvin, who was charged with murder. Also, some protesters reportedly tried to march outside of Best’s home, but were blocked by her neighbors. She wrote a letter asking the City Council to condemn the protestors behavior, but protesters said that some neighbors pointed weapons at them.

Although the council voted for the budget reductions, Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan asked the council to delay any major changes until next year. Best said in an interview with radio station KIRO that the vote was targeted at her.

“If they were going to do that and do it to every single department head, there might be an argument. But this is absolutely directed to me, just at Carmen Best, because Carmen Best has said what they’re doing is reckless and it’s not well thought out.”

Durkan, now faced with the same problems that mayors are dealing with across the country concerning police, expressed regret that Best is stepping down.

“While I understand the Chief’s reasons, I accepted her decision with a very heavy heart,” Durkan wrote in a message to the department, according to the 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.”

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