Seattle Police Chief Resigns After Budget Cuts
By Dan Frosch and Deanna Paul
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said she is quitting her post
following votes by the city council Monday to cut her department's
budget, including her own salary, and reduce the number of police
Ms. Best, the city's first Black police chief, has opposed calls
by city council members to cut the department's budget by as much
as 50%, part of a nationwide effort by progressive activists to
defund police departments following the killing of George Floyd by
Minneapolis officers. She said she had been left out of a push by
the Democratic-controlled council to reform the department.
The city council on Monday voted to cut close to $4 million from
the police department's budget of $170 million for the remainder of
the fiscal year, according to city council members. The cuts will
result in 32 fewer patrol officers and less money for recruitment,
training and specialized departments. The Seattle Police Department
previously had about 1,400 officers.
Seattle had experienced widespread, sometimes violent protests
against police brutality since the killing of George Floyd in May.
Several downtown blocks were taken over by protesters, with
virtually no police presence, for three weeks earlier in the
summer, which ended after several violent incidents prompted police
to retake control of the area. Protesters also held a demonstration
last week at Ms. Best's home outside the city.
"This was a difficult decision for me, but when it's time, it's
time," Ms. Best said in a letter that was sent out to the Seattle
police department Monday night. "I look forward to seeing how this
department moves forward through the process of re-envisioning
The abrupt announcement of her retirement, which Ms. Best said
would go into effect on Sept. 2, caught local officials off guard.
Mayor Jenny Durkan and Ms. Best were scheduled to speak at a news
conference later on Tuesday.
Ms. Durkan praised Ms. Best in her own letter to the department,
saying she'd accept her resignation "with a heavy heart" and
lauding the chief for being a strong proponent of community
Police chiefs in several other cities have either stepped down
or been fired amid the protests that followed Mr. Floyd's death and
widespread calls to overhaul police department policies and cut
"I think the current rush to reform the police through dramatic
budget cuts and calls to eliminate police departments has left
chiefs throughout the country in untenable situations," said Frank
Straub, a top official with the National Police Foundation, a
law-enforcement think tank, and a former chief in Spokane, Wash.
"We are losing incredibly talented and dedicated public servants at
a time when our country needs them most."
The Seattle-King County Black Lives Matter group also decried
Chief Best's retirement, calling it "a loss" and criticizing the
city council for not working harder to keep her.
"It does nothing to further our fight for authentic police
accountability and the safety of Black lives, that the first Black
woman to hold the position of Chief of Police of the Seattle Police
Department has been forced out of her job by the Seattle City
Council," the group said in a statement.
Write to Dan Frosch at email@example.com and Deanna Paul at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 11, 2020 13:36 ET (17:36 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.