Carmen Best, Seattle’s first Black police chief, announced her plans to retire effective September 2.
As the Seattle Times notes, Best’s announcement comes after the City Council voted to cut the police department’s budget, which would prompt officer layoffs and also cut Best’s own salary.
“This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time,” the police chief wrote in a letter announcing her retirement.
Best, who became police chief in 2018, has served more than 28 years on the police force.
As USA Today reports, the city council vote ended with the police department’s $400 million budget being cut by nearly $4 million this year, which will result in about 100 officers being cut from the force through either layoffs or attrition.
This cut comes at a time when police brutality cases are under a heavier spotlight in recent months. After the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, national attention sparked protests.
“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,” Best noted in her letter to the police department. “I am impressed daily at your skill, your compassion, and your dedication. 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.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued her own response to Best’s retirement, noting that she accepts the top cop’s decision “with a very heavy heart.”
“Her grit, grace and integrity have inspired me and made our city better. These last months, I knew Chief Best was the person to lead our city through this challenging time, to reimagine policing and community safety,” Durkan added. “Her leadership is unmatched nationwide, which is why it is a sad day for our city to lose her.”