After Seattle's city council voted in favour of slashing the budget of the police department, the city's police chief, Carmen Best, the first woman and the first African-American to occupy that position, has put in her resignation. Best is a veteran of the force with 28 years of service with the department. She had described the budget cuts as "punitive."
Though there isn't an official confirmation from her side as to the reasons for her quitting, the budget cuts are the most likely cause. The reduction in police funding also had a direct impact on her. It slashed the chief's salary from $294,000 to $275,000.
The Black Lives Matter campaign which took the entire country by storm after the killing of George Floyd was especially powerful in Seattle. Protestors in the city even managed to create an 'autonomous zone' at the Capitol Hill region which they called Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP).
Budget cuts in Seattle
One of the biggest demands by the movement since their protests got underway following Floyd's death was 'defunding the police.' While this initially seemed a radical proposal, it soon started getting the support of politicians on the left. When legislation was brought in Seattle's city council to reduce the annual budget of the police force by $4 million, it passed near-unanimously.
Interestingly, the only dissenter in the 7-1 verdict of the council in favour of the cuts was Kshama Sawant, who opposed the cuts because she believed it should have been much larger. The total budget of the police department before the cuts was $400 million annually. There would also be a big hit to the recruitment process as the funds for it would be reduced by $800,000.
The attorney of the outgoing police chief, Anne Bremner, claimed that a measure of revenge was also part of the motivation to bring about these cuts.
"(Best) and Jenny Durkan gave a press conference where they were critical of the council. In my view, this was retaliation because as soon as they did that, the council, in a vote that was not publicized, that was not on the agenda publicly, voted to reduce her salary," Bremner said.
Best herself put out a tweet on August 5, mentioning the issue. "We know that re-envisioning community safety will include changes to the SPD budget. But the push from Council to do large-scale changes in '20 w/no practical plan for community safety is completely reckless."
The irony in the situation is that defunding of the police is a demand based on the assumption that the force acts unfairly towards African-Americans. Yet, it has ended up forcing the resignation of a lady who has broken the proverbial glass ceiling of both gender and race in becoming the chief of the city's police force.