Seattle, WA – Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced her resignation to the police force via email on Monday night, just hours after the Seattle City Council voted to cut $3 million from the department’s budget without even consulting the police chief.
“To the Women and Men of the Seattle Police Department –
I wanted to notify you that I will be retiring from the Seattle Police Department, effective September 2nd, 2020,” Chief Best’s message began.
“I wanted you to hear this from me, but some media have reached this conclusion on their own,” she wrote.
“This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time,” the chief wrote. “I want to thank Mayor Durkan for her continuous support through good times and tough times.”
“I am confident the department will make it through these difficult times. 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,” she continued.
“I am impressed daily at your skill, your compassion, and your dedication,” Chief Best wrote. “I am thankful my command team has agreed to continue serving the department, and that Mayor Durkan has appointed Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz as the interim Chief of Police. Chief Diaz shares my commitment to this department and has the trust of the community.”
“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,” the 55-year-old police chief told her officers. “After more than 28 years, I am so thankful for the time I spent at SPD. You are my family. You will always be in my heart. We have had tough times before and come out better on the other side. I am glad I pushed through each of those tough times with you.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as your Chief. Remember to take care of one another,” she ended the note.
The shocking announcement was published on social media just after midnight on Tuesday.
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) August 11, 2020
Only hours earlier, the city council voted to cut the Seattle Police Department’s budget by $3 million by eliminating 100 police officers from the 1,400-officer department and cutting the police chief’s salary, The Washington Post reported.
Seattle has been in a perpetual state of turmoil since the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25.
Under the direction of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Chief Best ceded the East Precinct and the area around it to protesters who created the cop-free Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), originally known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).
After multiple shootings that included two juveniles, the city finally moved to shut down the occupied area around the East Precinct, but rioting across the city has continued.
Although the timing of Chief Best’s resignation was a surprise, her decision to resign was not unexpected.
Controversy over the Seattle police department’s use of less-lethal crowd control tactics such as pepper spray led the chief to issue a warning to residents of the city on July 24 that officers would no longer be able to help protect and defend property.
That same weekend, 59 Seattle police officers were injured after thousands of protesters firebombed and looted numerous businesses throughout the city.
Protesters vandalized the outside of the police department’s East Precinct with spray paint and tried to disable the security cameras, KIRO reported.
Rioters breached the fence protecting the building and shot an explosive device at the building that blew an eight-inch hole in the side of the precinct.
A week later on Aug. 1, armed protesters showed up at Chief Best’s home in Snohomish County but were stopped from wreaking havoc by her vigilant neighbors.
The police chief was not home at the time but witnesses said that neighbors saw unfamiliar vehicles going up and down Chief Best’s street and figured out what was happening.
So they set up a perimeter to protect the police chief’s home from vandalism and parked trucks across the street to block traffic, the Lynnwood Times reported.
The group of 200 protesters was made up mostly of white people in their twenties, dressed in black, wearing hoods and masks, and carrying signs that read “Black Lives Matter.”
The protesters screamed insults and profanities at the neighborhood residents, the Lynnwood Times reported.
The Seattle mayor sent her own missive to Seattle police officers shortly after Chief Best’s announcement, KIRO reported.
Durkan credited the police chief in her letter for having “defied institutional barriers” by becoming the top cop as a black woman, but her displeasure with Chief Best’s decision was evident.
“Carmen Best is still devoted to this department and our city,” the mayor wrote. “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.”
The she announced that Seattle Deputy Police Chief Adrian Diaz would become acting chief in September, KIRO reported.