Seattle's first Black female police chief announced her resignation after the city council voted to cut the department's budget and ax dozens of jobs

Seattle's first Black female police chief announced her resignation after the city council voted to cut the department's budget and ax dozens of jobs
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best pictured in January 2020.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best pictured in January 2020.

Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty

  • Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced her resignation on Monday, effective September 2. 

  • Best, who is the city’s first Black female police chief, decided to quit hours after the City Council passed cuts to her department’s budget.

  • The Seattle Police Department’s $409 million budget was reduced by $3.5 million for the rest of the year, which will likely result in about 100 officers being laid off.

  • The cuts amount to far less than the 50% sought by Black Lives Matter protesters. 

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The police chief of Seattle announced her resignation on Monday, hours after the City Council reduced her department’s budget by nearly 1%. 

In a department-wide email, Chief Carmen Best — who was the first Black woman to lead the Seattle police — said her resignation would be effective September 2. 

“This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time,” Best wrote in the email, according to KOMO.

Best went on to say that she is “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 said, according to KOMO.

Black Lives Matter protesters face off with police in Seattle, Washington, on July 25, 2020.Black Lives Matter protesters face off with police in Seattle, Washington, on July 25, 2020.
Black Lives Matter protesters face off with police in Seattle, Washington, on July 25, 2020.

David Ryder/Getty Images

Earlier Monday, the Seattle City Council approved amendments to the current city budget, reducing the police departments $409 million budget by $3.5 million, according to Reuters.

The cuts were made to top officers’ salaries and eliminated the Navigation Team and SWAT Unit, according to KOMO. 

“Why on Earth – for the people who’ve worked so very hard – would we ever consider not having the best of the best and compensating them fairly?” Best said at a press conference about the cuts last week.

“I find that absolutely shocking and quite frankly – I think it’s punitive and not well thought out. And that’s exactly how I feel about it.”

These cuts amounted to less than 1% of the police budget, which is far less than the 50% Black Lives Matter protesters have been calling for. However, City Council members have suggested that bigger cuts are on the way for 2021. 

The latest cuts could result in about 100 officers being eliminated through layoffs or attrition, according to KIRO 7.

A counter-protester holds a sign calling for the defunding of police during a rally in support of the Seattle police on July 15, 2020.A counter-protester holds a sign calling for the defunding of police during a rally in support of the Seattle police on July 15, 2020.
A counter-protester holds a sign calling for the defunding of police during a rally in support of the Seattle police on July 15, 2020.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Best’s resignation comes after months of turmoil in Seattle, which became a focal point of Black Lives Matter protests after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the end of May. 

For weeks in June, protesters took control of the area around the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building and designated it a police-free zone, which they named the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP

In late July, President Donald Trump sent federal agents to the city to quell the unrest, but they were removed within days.

On August 1, protesters also tried to stage demonstrations outside of Best’s home, where they were met by her armed neighbors. The demonstrators told local news station KING 5 they did not want to cause trouble, but wanted to ask Best about the police’s method of crowd control.

While Best did not explicitly explain her reasons for leaving the department after 28 years, she is expected to speak about it more at an 11 a.m. local time press conference with Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle on Tuesday. 

Chris Daniels, chief political reporter at KING 5, attributed Best’s resignation to “council actions, including a proposed massive pay cut, plus the council’s refusal to denounce marches to her house.”

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