When Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan named Carmen Best as the city’s next Chief of Police in 2018, Best was the first Black female to ever hold the position. But her tenure is coming to a premature end in a couple of weeks. Chief Best has tendered her resignation and notice of her intent to retire to the Mayor, who accepted it “with a very heavy heart.” Best’s resignation came on the same day that the City Council approved plans to reduce the size of the police force by 100 officers and slash four million dollars from the force’s budget. Despite having plenty of ammunition to complain about the city’s treatment of her force, Chief Best’s resignation message was nothing but professional. (Associated Press)
“I am confident the department will make it through these difficult times,” Best said in the letter. “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. … I look forward to seeing how this department moves forward through the process of re-envisioning public safety. I relish the work that will be done by all of you.”
In an email to police Mayor Jenny Durkan said she she accepted Best’s decision “with a very heavy heart.”
“I regret deeply that she concluded that the best way to serve the city and help the department was a change in leadership, in the hope that would change the dynamics to move forward with the City Council,” Durkan wrote.
The Mayor and the soon-to-be ex-Police Chief are planning a joint press conference later this morning. If the members of the press are up to the task, some of the questions should be interesting, to say the least.
What did they think was going to happen? The City Council had already slashed Best’s salary last week. At some point, a person has to conclude that they’ve taken enough abuse and it’s time to move on to greener pastures.
Perhaps even worse was the characterization of the Chief by the Mayor in her response. She’s describing Best’s decision as one of offering “a change in leadership” and the opportunity for the city to “move forward with the City Council.” Maybe it’s just me, but that makes it sound as if the problems they’ve been encountering were somehow Carmen Best’s fault. In reality, she’s been trying to tamp down the violence in her city while not only lacking the support of the Mayor and the City Council but their active opposition at times.
If Seattle’s residents are looking for somewhere to point the finger of blame there are plenty of candidates. The Mayor has been more interested in coddling the rioters than maintaining order and the rule of law. The City Council has almost unanimously blamed the police for everything and sought to punish them more than the criminals ripping the city apart. And underlying all of this, there are the hoodlums themselves who are burning, looting and setting fire to the Emerald City on a nightly basis.
Now Mayor Durkan has to come up with a new person to take the job as Chief of Police. She’s named Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz as an interim replacement, but is he really going to want the job permanently? For that matter, who in their right mind would want that job at this juncture? Diaz would be inheriting a department that’s being downsized and having its budget slashed right in the middle of a law enforcement crisis. And the moment any of his officers arrest one of the rioters, he’ll be hauled out for a walk of shame to apologize.
I’d wish the residents of Seattle good luck with this mess, but I’m fresh out of sympathy. They keep electing the same people to the City Council so they’re getting precisely what they asked for. You made your bed. Now you can sleep in it, assuming someone doesn’t set it on fire in the middle of the night.