Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle), Chair of the Council’s Public Assets and Native Communities Committee, issued the following statement after Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced she is retiring:
“I was disheartened to hear of Chief Best’s resignation. She has dedicated nearly thirty years of service to the people of Seattle, and for that, I am incredibly grateful. We have a better police department and a better city because of her. Our friendship spans decades, as we’ve both engaged with criminal justice at times from different corners of the courtroom: myself as a public defender and Chief Best as a police officer. We didn’t always agree, but what remained constant was our mutual respect and commitment to each other’s humanity. Her friendship and partnership are one-of-a-kind, and I will miss her steady hand as she led her department through turmoil.
“Her willingness to invest in a new Strategic Advisor around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) casework showed responsive leadership as she followed the lead of the Native community in addressing this epidemic. This is just one of many effective reforms she has spearheaded during her two years as chief- mandating body cameras, increasing the diversity of the force, and creating the Community Policing Bureau. Chief Best exemplifies true leadership.
“Her departure is a direct consequence of the lack of collaboration among leaders in the city in the face of calls for systemic change from the community. Chief Best’s resignation is a wake-up call for the Council and the Mayor’s office that we must work cooperatively to re-envision public safety. It’s also a reminder to the public that their actions have consequences too. Harassment and intimidation are not social justice tools. Let’s refocus our energy and remember where the real opposition lies.
“I voted against the amendment on August 5th, which passed 6-3, docking the pay of Chief Best and other command staff members. I did so because I believed in Chief Best, her talent, her grit, and her ingenuity, to weather the storm and shepherd our city to calmer waters. It’s time we find a way to work together, put aside grandstanding, listen, and value each other’s experiences and intentions.
“With Chief Best’s departure imminent, I welcome Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz to his new role as Interim Chief. I look forward to working with Interim Chief Diaz in the coming budget session to collaboratively expand on our work to bring systemic change to our public safety system.”