“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.”
And with that the Nation’s only Black Female Police Chief stepped down as Seattle Police Chief.
The unexpected but understandable move took the City by surprise and left more questions than answers. Since the George Floyd protest and the call for change by the Black Lives Matter protesters and civic leaders the relationship between the Seattle Police Department, protesters and City Council became contentious then downright disrespectful. The protesters sought to have their voices heard. The Police Department felt the damage of property and the endangerment of Police Officers called for a line to be drawn.
Depending on who you believe, what and when you saw a particular incident judgement in this case was in the eye of the beholder. The third player in this train wreck was the Seattle City Council role as the Institutionalized Gate keeper. On Monday the Council voted to reduce Chief Best’s salary by 40%, reduce the force by 100 officers and totaling about $3 million in 2020. We all know budget speak is tricky and they are a lot of moving parts. While these were first steps in the Council long term vision defunding the SPD budget by 50% the Council’s disrespect for Chief Best and her officers was too much to bear.
“ No other City executive was asked to take a pay and along with her staff, Best said at the press conference. “ So yes, I take it personally, but it was never about the money it’s about respect”. Which oddly enough is what the protestors , City Council and now Mayor Jenny Durkan are saying.
The tragedy here is a lack of respect and appreciation between the City Council and the Mayor’s . Yes, Adrian Diaz another public servant was picked to replace Chief Best on interim basis, but the racist institution is still in place. While the City Council and the Mayor’s bicker, police brutality towards people of color continues, SPD feels like it is unsupported and understaff. So, did anything really change? Well one thing changed , one of Seattle’s greatest public servant and a role model for black females left on her own terms which in itself is small solace.
“ I am so honored it’s been a wonderful career I am optimistic because people in this city will do the right thing. I am honored, proud and I thank you all, “ Chief Best as she stepped away from the podium and into the sunshine.