By Gregory Scruggs
SEATTLE, Aug 11 – Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced her resignation on Tuesday, one day after the Seattle City Council cut the police department’s budget, as part of reform efforts following mass protests against police violence.
The surprise resignation came after months of calls to “defund the police” following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer during an arrest on May 25. Floyd’s death set off protests around the country, with some leading to clashes between protesters and police, including in Seattle.
Seattle´s city council on Monday approved a budget reduction for city´s police department of less than 1% after protesters demanded it defund the force. Council members signaled deeper cuts might be on the way.
By a vote of 7-1, the council approved a revised 2020 budget that reduced the department´s budget by $3.5 million for the remainder of the year and invested $17 million in community public safety programs.
Council President Lorena González called the cut a “down-payment for future potential reductions” to the department´s budget.
Defunding advocates oppose the militarization of U.S. police forces and say officers are called on to deal with issues like addiction, mental illness and homelessness that could be better addressed by social services.
The city council’s decision on Monday reduced Best’s salary by $10,000, after originally considering a $100,000 cut.
“It is clear from the public statements of Chief Best that these pay cuts to her and her team weighed heavily in her decision to leave public service, and it is a significant and sad loss,” Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who voted against the cuts, said in a statement. Mayor Jenny Durkan told a news conference on Tuesday she regretted Best’s resignation, saying the former police chief, who is Black, understood “the lived experience of Black America.” (Reporting by Gregory Scruggs; Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Aurora Ellis)