KEY POINTS

  • Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said she was retiring from the force, effective Sept. 2, in an open letter
  • Best's announcement followed the city council voting to cut around $4 million from the 2019-2020 police budget
  • Best and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan are scheduled to speak more about her retirement at a Tuesday press conference

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced her retirement Monday after nearly 28 years of service on the Seattle police force.

“I wanted to notify you that I will be retiring from the Seattle Police Department,” Best said in an open later to Seattle police. “I wanted you to hear this from me, but some media have reached this conclusion on their own.”

“This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time.”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan thanked Best for her years of service in a separate letter released shortly after Best’s announcement.

Best’s decision followed news the Seattle City Council had voted to slash around $4 million from the Seattle police’s 2019-2020 budget of $400 million. The council said it voted to rebalance the budget in the wake of the economic impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the city, along with calls to reduce the police budget by Black Lives Matter protesters following George Floyd’s death.

The cuts will result in 32 officers being removed from patrol, reduced specialized units and travel, and moving victim advocates to Seattle’s human services department.

“Know that while I understand the Chief’s reasons, I accepted her decision with a very heavy heart,” Durkan said.

“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 his challenging time, to reimagine policing and community safety. Her leadership is unmatched nationwide, which is why it is a sad day for our city to lose her.”

Best’s retirement is effective Sept. 2 and a press conference is scheduled for Tuesday with Durkan and Best scheduled to speak.

“Reducing the budget of the Seattle Police Department is a response to the calls for advocating for racial justice and investments in BIPOC communities,” Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González said in a press release.

“What we can do is allow our police to focus on what they are trained to do and fund service providers addressing the more complex issues of housing, substance-use disorder, youth violence prevention, affordable healthcare, and more.”

Seattle Police Department Seattle Police Department officers surround an arrested demonstrator during May Day demonstrations in Seattle, Washington May 1, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Matt Mills McKnight