Seattle police chief resigns after city cuts $4M from police budget
Seattle police chief announces her retirement after the City Council voted to cut millions from the police department's budget.
Chief Carmen Best of the Seattle Police Department has announced her retirement effective September 2020.
According to her professional biography on the official city website, Best served the West Coast city’s police department for 28 years. In 2019, she received the “Vision from the Mountaintop” award for her dedication to justice and community.
She took the role of Chief of Police of the Seattle Police Department on August 13, 2018, and now almost two years later, the officer has decided to retire following budget cuts.
“The Council gave us $1.6 million to hire the best, brightest and most diverse. Now they want me to layoff 100 of those officers. I can’t do that,” she said in a Tweet. In another message shared on the social media platform, Best describes her retirement as a matter of respect.
CNN reports Best’s announcement came on the same day the council approved a mid-year budget cut by $4 million from the police department’s 2019-2020 budget.
The report notes that the new budget reduction will cut 32 officers from the patrol, reduce specialized units and administrative costs, cut training and travel expenses, have victim advocates transferred to the human services department and remove two sworn officers from the 911 emergency call center.
“Her grit, grace and integrity have inspired me and made our city better,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement, according to CNN. “These last months, I knew Chief Best was the person to lead our city through this challenging time, to reimagine policing and community safety.”
According to Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González, the budget cuts were decided on following the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, and the call to redistribute funds to community programs after the murder of George Floyd sparked anti-police protests, CNN reports.
The cut to the police department budget will equal $11M over the course of a year, according to CNN, an amount that is less than a 50% budget cut proposed in prior discussions.
“What we can do is allow our police to focus on what they are trained to do and fund service providers addressing the more complex issues of housing, substance use disorder, youth violence prevention, affordable healthcare, and more,” González told CNN.
The proposed budget still must go to Durkan to be signed. In June, the mayor asked the city council to cut about $20 million from the police department to make up for a shortfall of $378 million stemming from the reduced tax revenue of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to thank Mayor (Jenny) Durkan for her continuous support through good times and tough times,” Best said in letter obtained by CNN. “I am confident the department will make it through these difficult times.”
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