Seattle Police Chief to Resign as Council Pursues Ambitious Plan to Cut Budget

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She’s been on the correct side of this thing from the start. Nobody listened.

As City Council members in Seattle pursue an ambitious plan to cut dozens of police officers and create a new department dedicated to public safety, Police Chief Carmen Best said on Monday night that she planned to resign.

Chief Best, the first Black woman to hold the top policing job in the city, said in a message to the Police Department that she would retire next month and was “confident the department will make it through these difficult times.”

She did not elaborate on the reasons for her planned departure, but Mayor Jenny Durkan, an ally of the police chief, said Chief Best was making the move in hopes of changing the department’s fractious relationship with the City Council.

Amid the national movement to change policing in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, protesters in Seattle have called repeatedly for the city to cut the police budget by 50 percent. On Monday, council members moved in that direction with a budget plan to eliminate about 100 officers from the force. The plan included discussions of deeper cuts that could approach the 50 percent threshold next year, one of the most ambitious plans for police restructuring in the country.

“We always have to think beyond what is normally considered realistic and possible,” Lisa Herbold, chairwoman of the council’s public safety and human services committee, said at a hearing on Monday.


While some cities have voiced broad support for structural reforms to policing, the path to achieving it has been challenging. In Minneapolis, a majority of the City Council called to disband the Police Department to build a new public safety organization, but that effort has stalled because of a ballot initiative that has been delayed until most likely next year.

But in Seattle, the council appears to have a veto-proof majority in support of a 50 percent reduction in the police budget. Kshama Sawant, a council member, expressed outrage that colleagues were not moving faster to carry it out.

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