Seattle Police Chief Resigns -- Update
By Deanna Paul and Dan Frosch
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said she would be stepping down
from her post following votes by the city council Monday to cut her
department's budget, including her own salary, and the number of
Ms. Best, the city's first Black police chief, previously
opposed calls by city council members to cut the department's
budget by as much as 50%, part of a nationwide effort 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 out
of 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.
At a press conference Tuesday, Ms. Best criticized the city
council for what she described as an "overarching disrespect of the
officers," adding, "this was a decision I wrestled with."
The abrupt announcement of her retirement, which Ms. Best said
would go into effect on Sept. 2, caught local officials off
Mayor Jenny Durkan noted that local lawmakers cut Ms. Best's
salary the day after she described her vision for the future of
policing in the city, including how to handle funding
"They targeted Carmen Best," Ms. Durkan said. "It was so
mystifying to see the city council plow ahead without listening to
Ms. Best said the cut in her salary "felt very vindictive and
very punitive," adding that she didn't want the police force to be
affected by "the animus directed toward me."
City Council President M. Lorena González said in a statement
Monday that the rebalanced budget was in response to calls for
racial justice and investments in minority communities. Along with
the police cuts, the city council agreed to invest $17 million in
community-led safety efforts.
Ms. Durkan lauded the chief on Tuesday for addressing increases
in gun violence, diversifying the department and reducing its use
Seattle had experienced widespread, sometimes violent protests
against police brutality since the killing of George Floyd while in
police custody in May. Several blocks were taken over by
protesters, with virtually no police presence, for three weeks. The
chief also said her home outside the city had been targeted by
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 basic
"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,
The Seattle-King County Black Lives Matter group also decried
Chief Best's retirement, calling it a loss for the city.
Write to Deanna Paul at email@example.com and Dan Frosch at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 11, 2020 15:54 ET (19:54 GMT)
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