Before Carmen Best's two and a half years and Kathleen O'Toole's three years as chief, Seattle police were led by three different chiefs in slightly more than a year. Here's a look at the department's leadership over the past decade or so.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced her retirement Monday after two and a half years in the job and nearly three decades in the department.
Her decision came in the wake of protests against police brutality in Seattle and near her Snohomish County home, as well as criticism over the Police Department’s response. But the deciding factor, Best said Tuesday, was the City Council’s choice to shrink the police force and her wages, which she said felt personal and vindictive and signaled a lack of respect for the department’s employees.
Best, 55, became Seattle’s interim police chief early in 2018, after Kathleen O’Toole stepped down. Mayor Jenny Durkan’s selection team initially passed over Best for the permanent job, choosing other finalists. But a backlash among community leaders and some police officers helped lead the mayor to appoint Best. The council voted unanimously to confirm her.
O’Toole’s departure also came at a turbulent time in city government, with the city having been led by four mayors in less than a year. She had been widely praised for her efforts to turn around the Seattle Police Department in accordance with a federally mandated consent decree, signed in 2012, requiring the department to adopt reforms to address a history of excessive force and biased policing.
Before O’Toole’s arrival in 2014, SPD had been led by three different police chiefs in slightly more than a year.
Here’s a look at some of the organization’s challenges and leadership changes over the past decade or so: