Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, today responded to the announcement by Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best that she will retire, effective Sept. 2. Her announcement came just hours after the Seattle City Council voted to cut the Seattle Police Department budget by 14 percent, which will result in the firing of 100 police offers and the elimination of several key public-safety units.
“My Senate Republican colleagues and I thank Chief Best for her 28 years of dedication and service to the City of Seattle, the people of its communities and the men and women in blue who served under her leadership,” said Honeyford, who was an Ellensburg police officer from 1960 to 1966.
“Chief Best worked tirelessly to reform the Seattle PD into a model of innovation, transparency and accountability, and dedicated herself to building trust and healing between members of law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
Honeyford voiced disappointment that Chief Best was undermined in the performance her duties by a city government that he described as caving to political intimidation.
“As a former police officer I am truly saddened, and quite frankly disgusted, by the way the supposedly progressive Seattle City Council treated the city’s first female African-American police chief. At a time when the council professed to want black leaders to stand up and be heard, they silenced and sidelined one of our state’s most prominent black leaders and set out to decimate her department at the whim of political extremists without so much as even consulting with her.
“I have never seen another police chief treated in such a disrespectful and spiteful manner.”
Honeyford also called out the Seattle City Council for its vote to fire nearly 100 law enforcement officers, including 32 patrol officers, and special team units including those addressing the city’s homeless crisis, school resource officers, SWAT and harbor patrol officers, during a time of increasing violent crime in the city.
“As recently as October, many of these same council members were pledging to increase the number of officers on the street, due to the rising levels of property and violent crime. What has changed in Seattle since then?” asked Honeyford. “Nothing except the political demands of an all-too-often violent, lawless mob.
“These draconian cuts will not make Seattle safer or more just, and Chief Best was right to bravely refuse to be a party to these reckless actions.”
Honeyford says he plans to introduce a resolution to formally honor and thank Chief Best when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
“Chief Best excelled at a difficult job, which was made even more difficult by the interjection of politics and special interests,” he said. “She deserved much better, and hopefully the Legislature can speak for the vast majority of Washingtonians who are proud of Chief Best for her groundbreaking achievements and appreciate her for her tremendous service.”