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Story of Seattle’s First Black Female Police Chief Lays Bare Lasting Harm of “Defund the Police”

AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott

Seattle police

Last month, Carmen Best, the first black woman to serve as Seattle’s police chief, joined Microsoft as the Global Security Risk Operations director after resigning from her post in August of 2020. The news is the latest in a wave of senior law enforcement officials permanently leaving public service for the private sector after the “Defund the Police” movement led to an all-out war on law enforcement by progressive activists and “woke” city governments nearly two years ago. While most cities have frantically tried to reverse course and “Refund the Police” amid a predictable surge in crime, the story of Carmen Best is a tragic illustration of how the loss of law enforcement experience and leadership as a result of Defund the Police is likely irreversible, and will be felt across America for decades to come.

Carmen Best began her career in law enforcement in 1992. After 26 years of working her way up from officer to captain, she became Seattle’s first black female Chief of Police in 2018. She immediately recognized that a lack of officers was hindering effective policing and putting citizens’ lives at risk. Within a year, she grew the department by 110 officers, 40% of whom were black. Recruiting such a diverse cohort of officers when progressives were already increasingly critical of policing was a significant accomplishment, and helped stem the wave of crime that had been gripping Seattle for years.

After the death of George Floyd in 2020, however, violent protests spread throughout Seattle. While Best worked to contain the protests, Seattle’s City Council actively encouraged them. Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, a member of the “Socialist Alternative,” had a history of encouraging protesters to engage in “civil disobedience” that often devolved into violence. She was hardly alone. After a subordinate of Best ordered the abandonment of Seattle’s East Precinct (without Best’s knowledge), protesters immediately moved into the area. They established the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” aka “CHAZ” – declaring the area an autonomous country separate from the United States.

The rioters refused to abandon the area unless the police department budget was cut by 50 percent and all protesters were given blanket amnesty for their actions. The media claimed the occupation was a result of overly aggressive policing, and Best would later accuse the media of intentionally ignoring the mob violence to promote the narrative that the protests were “mostly peaceful.”

While Best wanted to clear the area, on June 11, progressive Mayor Jenny Dirkan supported the occupation, stating on CNN, “We could have the summer of love.” Only after reports of extreme violence and several shootings within CHAZ was Best finally permitted to clear the area on July 1. City Councilmember Sawant ridiculously blamed the shootings on President Donald Trump and suggested the gunmen were “right-wing” activists who had infiltrated CHAZ. She later conceded that she “appears to be incorrect.”

Despite spiking crime rates, the city council decided to honor the mob’s demands and pushed to cut Seattle’s police budget by 50%. This was to be implemented in increments, starting with reducing the police force by 100 officers. Best, however, vehemently opposed this plan.

Among her many concerns, she noted that police, like all union-backed jobs, have a “last-in-first-out” policy, meaning that when layoffs occur, it is the most junior officers who get laid off first. This ensures that the government can’t lay off police near their 20-year retirement and protects more experienced officers. In Seattle’s case, this meant Best would have to fire all of the new recruits, of which 40 percent were minorities, and many were female.

Seattle City Council Member Lisa Herbold quickly decided she had a solution: fire only white police officers. On June 19, she demanded Best lay off police “out of order” to protect black police officers. Much of the council supported her proposal. Police Chief Best found this unconscionable, illegal, and refused to do so. “We cannot do layoffs based on race,” she said. “I would love for Councilmember Herbold to work with us and not against us, ensuring we have a viable number of officers.”

The Council continued to pressure her and even cut her salary. Finally, in August, Best announced her resignation from the police force, the latest victim of the radical left’s crusade for “racial equity.” She explicitly cited the City Council’s “budget cuts and lack of respect for SPD” as the motivating factors in her resignation. After the announcement, Sawant suggested it was “time for her to go,” accused her of enabling “racism,” and said Best had provided a “service” to “the capitalist class in pushing back against the Black Lives Matter movement at the height of its power.” As it turns out, the cuts were not necessary; by the end of 2020, over 200 police officers resigned alongside her.

Fast forward to last week, two years after Best’s ousting, when Seattle’s City Council approved $2.3 million in new equipment and training for police. Additionally, the Council’s 2022 police budget called for another 125 police officers and is offering generous hiring bonuses to stem the mass resignations plaguing the city. The department has only hired seven new officers this year while losing 34.

Mayor Jenny Dirkan did not run for reelection and has expressed “regret” over her “summer of love” comments. She was replaced by moderate Democrat Bruce Harrell who won his race by a landslide, campaigning on reversing the effects of the “Defund the Police” movement. One of his two primary opponents supported abolishing “the police department and jail,” while the other tweeted that her Christmas 2020 wish was to see Seattle police “catch COVID.”

In the mainstream media, a popular narrative has taken hold of the ongoing discussion over race and justice in America. To progressives, there are two groups: those who fight, sometimes imperfectly, for social justice, and those who do not. But no matter how imperfectly the former may fight, the left believes that they are inherently good because they are on the side of “justice” and “equity.” Conversely, those who oppose their measures are either racists or complicit in racism due to their ignorance.

But what happens when facts and reality become inconvenient truths for those who promote those narratives? Carmen Best is a good example. Instead of backing the black female police chief who devoted herself to diversifying her police force and making Seattle a better, safer place to live, the radical left backed the violent mob that destroyed everything in its path, all in the name of “racial justice.” In doing so, the progressive politicians and activists responsible for driving Best and so many other good police officers from the law enforcement profession revealed that at the core of their ideology is not a principled desire for “equality,” but rather a ruthless quest for power that has similarly characterized tyrants and bullies throughout history.

Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.       


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Bree
8 months ago

Sadly, this is happening more and more often. When will LEFTIST useful idiots learn that their instigators are merely using them for gaining power and nothing else? Portland and Seattle are 2 beautiful cities that I have enjoyed visiting and would love to go back…..BUT NO WAY now…..

John
9 months ago

Well researched, well written article. An equally sad reality is that the media’s gaslighting of the disastrous results of BLM’s call to defund the police are still believed by so many Americans today. Recovery may take many years. The twisting of Justice by many woke District Attorneys will add more years to the slow recovery of Rule of Law.

essay
9 months ago

Seattle and Portland provided a clear path of what not to do. They’d be a joke if it wasn’t so tragic for how their citizens and police officers suffered.

Gene
9 months ago

Is Andrew Adams a pen name to avoid retribution? Excellent article telling like it is.

Manuel
9 months ago

If she can’t do the job treat her like another and fire her

Katrina
9 months ago
Reply to  Manuel

She has been fired. Voted OUT. New mayor at the helm.

Dave
9 months ago

STOP VOTING FOR THESE PROGRESSIVE FOOLS!

David P Nelson
9 months ago

This is very, very sad to read. Our Society is crumbling around us.

Bob
9 months ago

I am wondering how many people from across the country have stopped going to Seattle because of the problem there. The cost to the city must be substantial.

MyOmy
9 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Me

LUKE KNIGHT
9 months ago

The western states have for a long time wanted a freedom to do as and they please without any consequences so I say let them die at their own hand. If your opponent is destroying himself get out of his way. The only people seeking to DEFUND THE POLICE are the people who wants to break the law and does not want any consequences.

Centurion
9 months ago
Reply to  LUKE KNIGHT

That’s why the western states are often referred to as the “left coast.”

ROCKLAND GASAWAY
9 months ago
Reply to  LUKE KNIGHT

The only problem with that is all the people that get tired of living in the shot hole they created, want to move east and try and do it all over again.

Larry W.
9 months ago

Only a person filled with hatred and warped thinking would encourage a riot. There are much better and more productive ways to handle situations that rioting. Rioting kills and wounds people and destroys innocent peoples property. Rioting is pure evil emerging out of pure hatred. Rioters and their supporters are just as evil as racists.

teresa Ann d'alessandro
9 months ago

typical of the dums they are hypocrites, they want to defund the police and when they see cops are needed they want to walk back what they said. why don’t you people think before you act. good people are being chased away and dopes will be the only thing left to help in an emergency

Leslie
9 months ago

State of Washington made it virtually impossible for officers to do their jobs. As usual politicians screw everything up. The mass exodus of law enforcement officers from this state is record setting. Crime will only increase and the blood of our officers is on the hands of Jay Inslee and all of our state legislators.

Philip Hammersley
9 months ago

Why would any sane person want a job where your hands are tied so that you cannot carry out your duties? I’m surprised that there are ANY cops left in some of these cities!

Art
9 months ago

Carmen Best was way out front with the mess that was Seattle. She was shackled by the system. She did everything that the “system” allowed her to do. Outstanding Police Chief. I hope that she thrives at Microsoft eventhough I am not a fan of the Gates Empire. She deserves good stuff going forward.

richard johnson
9 months ago

Obama said he wanted a “national police force”. Destroying local polices departments open the path needed for Obama’s wish to come to fruition.

TheHoneyBadger
9 months ago

Obama want a GeStaPo.

David L
9 months ago

It is so amazing how evil gets so entrenched in a country. Evil gets more and more evil until it burns itself out. The costs are usually high.This evil of progressive ideas will burn itself out but many of us must endure the pain. The young are often naive and hopefully the young will outgrow their beliefs.it is Americas time to dabble in idealist beliefs that have proven not to work. It will no doubt get worse before the tide turns. We must keep our faith in a God that teaches us a moral code of right and wrong, good and evil. God permits evil to exist for a greater purpose. There is a powerful lesson that Americans must learn. The road ahead may be bumpy but good will win in the end even though the costs will be high.

Ron Howard
9 months ago
Reply to  David L

As I have said over and over again, the initiation of any good cause is eventually taken over by evil!

Jeanine
9 months ago
Reply to  David L

One nation under God

teresa Ann d'alessandro
9 months ago
Reply to  David L

they have the power bc the justice system is corrupt just like the left – it will take a long time to get this country on the right track. what i find very disturbing is the dopes who support the left and vote for them – they are just as evil

BigLT
9 months ago

Best is a woke racist black woman who by the facts hired 110 new officers and 40% were black. Seattle only has a 5.5% black population. How many white people were discriminated against by her? Yet she still wasn’t racist enough for the city council.

richard johnson
9 months ago
Reply to  BigLT

Really? The Marxist Democratic Party is gearing up to displace our republic with totalitarianism and you’re focused on one very small peg in a very, very large machine?!

WilliamB
9 months ago
Reply to  BigLT

But she is racist and progressive enough for Bill Gates and his virtue signaling.

Darrel
9 months ago

I want the very people that called for defunding the police and condemning Best to be at the head of the line for suffering from crime and no police coming to their aid. Seattle is made up of very sick people and we are thrilled to be out of there!

Tim Toroian
9 months ago

Woke? Asleep at the switch. If all these malodorous DAs and mayors aren’t voted out of office those cities deserve what they get. And they shouldn’t be given federal help. The taxpayers bailing out abject stupidity shouldn’t be part of the game but with Bumble Brain in office who knows. If someone had some form of dementia we shouldn’t poke fun at them unless they are the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. It’s bad when the Saudis who aren’t known for their humor do es televised skits about it. He says America is back, to quote Colonel Potter, Horse Hockey.!

Willy
9 months ago
Reply to  Tim Toroian

Not Horse Hockey! That’s degrading to the horses. Biden Sh!t is more appropriate.

TPS
9 months ago

Well, if msm and the voters are too foolish to see what is happening and do nothing, then they are getting what they deserve. Along with the highest inflation in 40 years!

WilliamB
9 months ago
Reply to  TPS

Haven’t you heard? It’s not excessive government giveaways and curtailment of domestic oil and gas production…it’s Putin. (Do I really need a sarc flag here?)

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