The Seattle Chief of Police announced on Tuesday that she would be retiring from her post as the top cop after months of unrest in the city, and she isn't going quietly.
Best has fought against a brick wall since the end of May as Black Lives Matter protesters descended on Seattle and set up camp in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. For weeks, Best's police department faced riots, looting, vandalism, and violent crime while they were permitted by the city to establish an autonomous zone dubbed "CHAZ" and "CHOP" while forcing police out of a neighborhood precinct.
Finally, CHOP was disbanded as police were eventually permitted to move back into the area, but the fight against police did not abate. Protests continued across the city and violence escalated with spiking homicide rates throughout Seattle.
This week, the department was dealt a deathblow as the city council voted to defund the police department by millions of dollars. The cut in funding, which applies to the remaining part of 2020, meant that 100 officers would be laid off to make up the missing budget. Best, who had already taken a hefty salary cut amid cries to defund the police, announced her retirement on Tuesday. She plans to leave office in early September.
The resignation of Best coupled with the forced layoffs of 100 officers spells out a disaster for minority employment and achievement in Seattle, a city that is almost 70 percent white. Best was the first black, female police chief in the city's history. The layoffs, which are given out according to longevity on the force, will mostly impact the most recent graduates of the police academy, which was the most diverse class the department had ever seen.
Best resigned with an acknowledgment of her continued frustration throughout the summer but wished Democrat Mayor Jenny Durkan well, despite their frequent opposition. She didn't skip the opportunity, however, to remind her police force that the far-left city council, the mayor, and the protesters didn't speak for the majority of people.
"I want to thank Mayor Durkan for her continuous support through good times and tough times," she said. "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."
Later on Tuesday, Best expressed her frustration with the city and the situation that forced her to step away from her position. Responding to criticism that she quit over a salary dispute, she said the disrespect for police was what drove her away.
"This is not about the money - I have thicker skin than that. This is about the disrespect shown all SPD officers," she said.
This is not about the money - I have thicker skin than that. This is about the disrespect shown all SPD officers. pic.twitter.com/tzZVo4IyMq— Chief Carmen Best (@carmenbest) August 11, 2020
Durkan accepted Best's resignation with "a heavy heart." Many Twitter users wished Best well and said they understood her choice to leave.
As a former Seattlite and current Oregon resident, I am so sorry for our collective loss in your totally justified resignation. I hope you can remain in the PNW continuing the fine work of your public service career to date. Run for office! Governor Best has an awesome ring.— Ag Optix (@AgOptix) August 11, 2020
Thank you for your unwavering support of your officers, the department and the city of Seattle. The SCC has done nothing but destroy our once beautiful and thriving city. #defendpolice #defundseattlecitycouncil— Jennifer Both (@BothJennifer) August 11, 2020
God Bless your strength and determination to stand up for what is right! You should take a position in a red state where your expertise and wisdom will be respected and heard!— Cindypalindy (@CthetruthQ) August 11, 2020