Chief Carmen Best retires Wednesday after 28 years with SPD

SEATTLE — Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best officially retired Wednesday after spending her entire 28-year career with the Seattle Police Department.

Best announced her plans to retire on Aug. 11, one day after the Seattle City Council approved slashing $3 million from the SPD, which includes a loss of 100 officers through a combination of layoffs and attrition.

The council also voted to cut her salary and that of her command staff.

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The Tacoma native is the first African-American woman to ever serve as Seattle’s police chief. She rose through the ranks from a patrol officer in the East Precinct to sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and deputy chief.

Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz will assume the role of Interim Chief in the wake of Best’s retirement. Click here to read about his background in law enforcement.

Following Best’s announcement, many people and groups praised her work during recent unprecedented times of civil unrest in the city.

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“Chief Best is the model of a chief that we need. Nobody cares about this community more than Carmen Best,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said. “Make no mistake - Best was the right chief to reimagine policing in Seattle.”

Andre Taylor, the director of Not This Time, asked Best to cancel her retirement plans and “complete the work here in Seattle.”

Not This Time is the organization that succeeded in passing I-940, which requires officers to try to de-escalate situations instead of using force.

Read the email Best sent out to her officers before she publicly announced her retirement:

“To the Women and Men of the Seattle Police Department –

I wanted to notify you that I will be retiring from the Seattle Police Department, effective September 2nd, 2020. 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.

I want to thank Mayor Durkan for her continuous support through good times and tough times.

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.

I am impressed daily at your skill, your compassion, and your dedication. I am thankful my command team has agreed to continue serving the department, and that Mayor Durkan has appointed Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz as the interim Chief of Police. Chief Diaz shares my commitment to this department and has the trust of the community.

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.

After more than 28 years, I am so thankful for the time I spent at SPD. You are my family. You will always be in my heart. We have had tough times before and come out better on the other side. I am glad I pushed through each of those tough times with you.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as your Chief.

Remember to take care of one another.

Thank you

Carmen Best

Chief of Police”