SEATTLE - Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best will resign after the Seattle City Council voted to slash the department’s budget.
Carmen Best, the city’s first Black police chief, said in a letter to the department that her retirement will be effective Sept. 2 and the mayor has appointed Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz as the interim chief.
“I am confident the department will make it through these difficult times,” Best said in the letter. “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 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."
In an email to police Mayor Jenny Durkan said she she accepted Best’s decision “with a very heavy heart.”
“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,” Durkan wrote.
A news conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The council on Monday approved proposals that would reduce the police department by up to 100 officers through layoffs and attrition. Chief Best was vocal in her oppostion to the cuts, which came after councilmembers pledged to redirect money from SPD to community programs amid calls from protesters in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.
Budget cuts approved by the council will eliminate nearly $4 million of the department’s $400 million annual budget. While the cuts fall well short of what Black Lives Matter protesters are demanding, councilmembers pledged to cut further in 2021.
Seattle has about 1,400 police officers currently.
Chief Best told Q13's Brandi Kruse in an interview Monday morning that she felt targeted by a "punitive" proposal to cut her pay by 40%: "I do feel like it's ... animus toward me specifically."
Chief Best is the first black woman to lead SPD.
Durkan announced in July of 2018 that Best would be appointed as the new police chief.
A 28-year veteran of SPD, Best had the support of many community members and the union that represents the department’s rank and file officers.
“I have the credentials. I have the resume. I have the heart," Best said in 2018. "I don’t have the hometown girl advantage. I have the qualifications advantage. I am the one for this job. I hope the citizens and the mayor and others will see that and make me the permanent police chief.”
Seattle's former chief Kathleen O'Toole, who helped reform the department after federal officials found officers were too quick to use force against minorities, stepped down at the end of 2017.