SEATTLE - About three weeks from now Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best will walk out of the department’s headquarters for the last time holding the title.
Best spent nearly 30 years with Seattle Police Department and rose through the ranks after community members demanded she be considered for the top job.
While Best said her last day will be in early September, a nationwide search for her replacement is on hold.
Some of Best’s law enforcement peers across the region worry the politics inside Seattle’s City Hall could dissuade the most qualified candidates to apply.
The department still faces significant challenges, including budget cuts, all while still operating under federal oversight.
“I’m sad to leave in some ways,” Best said during a press conference announcing her resignation. “But, when it’s time, it’s time.”
After the city council moved toward drastically cutting the department’s budget, Best said the final straw for her was learning that diversify recruitment efforts may have been for nothing as she feared the most recently hired would be first let go. Still, Best said she believes to have made an impact.
“This has really been the job of a lifetime,” she said.
“If Carmen Best at this point in time in Seattle’s history is not good enough, nobody’s going to be good enough,” said Jim Fuda, who spent decades working for the King County Sheriff’s Office.
He worried the Puget Sound region loses out with Best’s departure. Finding a replacement won’t be easy.
Former King County Sheriff John Urquhart worried the city council’s budget cuts might not inspire the best of the best to apply.
“Nobody in their right mind is going to want to come here,” he said.
Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said Best may have been the smartest choice to help lead SPD’s efforts to redefine policing, but thinks the chief may still have opportunities ahead.
Mylett also said it’s not the last time people will see her in a leadership role.
“We need her voice,” he said.
A nationwide hunt for Best’s replacement has been put on hold as Durkan announced she intended to work with the city council to finalize the 2021 budget.