Seattle Police Chief Steps Down After City Council Slashes Police Budget

Carmen Best / YouTube screenshot
August 11, 2020

Seattle police chief Carmen Best announced her resignation Monday night after the Seattle City Council passed a set of budget amendments that would lay off up to 100 officers and cut millions in funding for the city's police department—a move that Best said was "reckless."

"The push from [the] council and some of our community is to do these large scale changes in 2020 with no practical plan for community safety, and I believe wholeheartedly that that is completely reckless," Best said at a press conference following the council's preliminary vote last week.

The council reportedly failed to include Best, the city's first black police chief, in discussions on the budget cuts—which initially included a $100,000 cut to her salary. The council also refused to condemn protesters who marched to Best's home earlier this month.

Mayor Jenny Durkan (D.) and Best have squabbled with the city council for weeks over its drastic approach to reforming the city's police department.

The amendments passed Monday cut $3 million from the police department budget, including a $20,000 pay cut for the police chief, and will reduce the police force by up to 100 officers.

In a conversation with KING 5 news anchor Joyce Taylor last week, Best said she believes the council would have treated her differently if she was white.

"Have you ever seen a white police chief in Seattle treated like they have sidelined me?" Best asked.

Police union rules require that layoffs are conducted by tenure. The layoffs would hit the city's newest recruits—the most diverse class of officers in the city's history, according to Durkan.

"They are our most diverse class ever, and they are so committed to reform and community policing," Durkan said. "The youngest officers would be the first to go."

Best served in the city's police department for nearly three decades. Her resignation will take effect on Sept. 2.

Published under: Police , Seattle