Seattle’s top cop Carmen Best leaves her post saying policing cuts left her ‘destined to fail’

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Seattle’s top cop has said she quit her job last month after cuts to the budget left her ‘destined to fail.’

Carmen Best was the Seattle Police Department’s first Black female police chief and officers lined the streets to bid her farewell Wednesday during her last day on the job.

In an interview published the same day, Best – who previously said her decision to leave ‘certainly isn’t about the demonstrators’ following the death of George Floyd – blasted the city council’s decision to drop 100 officers out of 1,400.

‘I believe 100% that they were putting me in a position destined to fail,’ Best told NPR All Things Considered regarding a revamp in response to calls to defund the department. 

'I believe 100% that they were putting me in a position destined to fail,' Carmen Best said in an NPR interview published Wednesday

‘I believe 100% that they were putting me in a position destined to fail,’ Carmen Best said in an NPR interview published Wednesday

‘Cutting a police department that already had low staffing numbers, that was already struggling to keep up with the demand… How are we going to provide for adequate public safety in that environment?’

Despite a proposal to slash the $400million budget in half, only $4million was redirected. 

Her own $285,000 salary was reduced as part of that. She previously said her resignation was ‘not about the money.’

The council plan also takes officers off a team that removes homeless camps. 

Jason Johnson, the interim director of Seattle’s Human Services Department, said in a letter last month that the move to defund the city’s Navigation Team and redirect money to homeless outreach services will ‘dramatically restrict the city’s ability to address unauthorized encampments’. 

Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan previously said any layoffs would disproportionately target newer officers, often hired from Black and brown communities, and would inevitably lead to lawsuits. 

She and the Mayor had urged the council to slow down talks to make changes amid an uprising.

The Seattle City Council approved proposals Monday that would reduce the police department by as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition

The Seattle City Council approved proposals Monday that would reduce the police department by as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition

Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan previously said any layoffs would disproportionately target newer officers, often hired from Black and brown communities, and would lead to lawsuits

Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan previously said any layoffs would disproportionately target newer officers, often hired from Black and brown communities, and would lead to lawsuits 

The mayor sketched out a plan to reduce the police budget by about $75million next year by transferring parking enforcement officers, the 911 call center and other areas out of the department. 

Only one council member, Kshama Sawant, voted against the budget package, saying it does not do enough to defund the police. 

Best – who worked her way up the force over 30 years – didn’t like being left out of discussions. 

She told NPR in the Wednesday interview that it had become ‘very difficult to move forward and make the changes needed to move the department in the right direction.’ 

Best, 55, spoke as it was revealed a number of dangerous weapons including knives, a hatchet, and homemade spike strips had been recovered at the former site of Seattle’s controversial ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’, two months after it was dismantled.

The park, which had been turned into a ‘police-free’ zone, was finally cleared out on July 1 under an executive order issued by Mayor Durkan following weeks of unrest.

Best previously said the area had become ‘lawless and brutal’ noting four shootings, two fatal, robberies, assaults, violence and countless property crimes.

As her deputy Adrian Diaz takes over, Best admitted she had ‘mixed feelings’ about leaving her role during such an important time in policing.

‘Of course I do, how could I not? We’re in the middle of a social reckoning, you know, racial reckoning in the country … and we have to acknowledge that policing has a history that has in many ways been conducive to the racism that we’re experiencing,’ she told NPR. 

‘But we also have to acknowledge that policing is working really hard to change that narrative. And we need to work with the public to figure out how we’re going to do that.’

Adrian Diaz, Deputy Chief of Seattle Police, now takes over Carmen Best's role

Adrian Diaz, Deputy Chief of Seattle Police, now takes over Carmen Best’s role 

In a statement shared on social media Best wrote that she will step down from her post on September 2. 'This was a difficult decision for me but when it's time, it's time,' Best wrote

In a statement shared on social media Best wrote that she will step down from her post on September 2. ‘This was a difficult decision for me but when it’s time, it’s time,’ Best wrote

Addressing President Trump’s accusations that Democrat leaders are failing to maintain law and order, Best was eager to separate politics from policies and demonstrative protests from the criminal activity surrounding them.

‘All those conversations are about politics, and I really want to be about policies,’ Best continued.  

‘Many can be peaceful demonstrators, but we also have people showing up who are rioters, who are breaking property, who are assaulting people, who are trying to set the precinct on fire, and that is criminal activity.

‘And we do need to address it. I’m not saying that that is a political partisan issue, but it is an issue of public safety.’

Amid the racial injustice uprising Best was also eager to point out that opinions about politics and policies aren’t synonymous with heritage.

Asked whether being a Black woman and a police officer has found her in moments of conflict this summer she said it hasn’t.

‘It’s really interesting that people, they try to make it a strange dichotomy, that somehow being African American means you’re anti-cop, or being a cop means you’re anti-African American — and neither of those things is true,’ Best said.

‘I think that’s a very false narrative. I have … a lot of family and none of them wants to not be safe in their neighborhood. It’s not that they don’t want policing. They just want to make sure that when policing happens, that it’s fair and just.’

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