Military and Police

After Mayoral Flip-Flop, Carmen Best Back In it for Seattle Police Chief

At the end of May, Mayor Jenny Durkan passed over interim Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best as a finalist to become the department’s new permanent chief. The mayor is still undecided, and Best has been leading the department since Jan. 1, 2018 after Chief Kathleen O’Toole stepped down.

Since being passed over, Chief Best has shown considerable grace in the face of the mayor’s insult. And, now, her supporters as well as her character have lifted her out of the emotional torrent into which Mayor Durkan’s unpopular decision had thrown the city. In a sudden reversal, the mayor recently announced that Best is “back in the running to be permanent chief after one of the three finalists for the job withdrew from consideration.”

“Absolutely thrilled,” Best told The Seattle Times in regards to the mayor’s decision. They caught up with the chief on her way to a Kenny Chesney concert at Century Link Field.

Best, a black woman who is a 26-year veteran of the Seattle police department is in a unique position. She’s earned solid support from some polar opposite city groups. She not only has support from the city’s black activist community, but also from the city’s police union. The union had expressed dismay over the mayor’s snub of their boss which is something the city government should not frivolously fritter away—even though they will, eventually. Take it from me; these days, cops’ strong support, not to mention affection, for a police chief is rare.

(Credit: YouTube/Q13 Fox)

Full disclosure: Best was my sergeant at one time, and although I haven’t agreed with every decision she’s made as a command staffer, I have nothing but positive things to say about her tenure as our squad’s supervisor, how she treated her officers, and about her as a person.

The mayor’s reconsideration of Best for the permanent slot may provide Seattle with a unique opportunity for the city’s restoration of its political sanity—although that may be too big of a bite, putting Best back in the running is a sign the city is heading in the right direction.

Among the evidence of the insanity is Mayor Durkan’s recent whiplash-inducing U-turns.

After signing the massively unpopular “head-tax,” Mayor Durkan flip-flopped and signed a repeal. She claimed she was being responsive to the people. The only thing Madame Mayor is responsive to is her leftist ideology and which way the political winds are blowing.

Now, she suddenly flip-flops on her massively unpopular exclusion of an excellent police chief candidate from the final list for the permanent position.

However, if you read between the lines in a Seattle Times story about the reversal, it seems Durkan may be trying to, if you’ll pardon two clichés in one sentence, have her cake and eat…well, you know. Another candidate, former Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay, rumored to be Durkan’s choice, suddenly withdrew from consideration. But that didn’t mean he was about to fade away.

After all, he has all the qualifications someone like Jenny Durkan would look for: McLay is a social justice warrior who “wanted to do in Seattle what he never got a chance to do in his tumultuous two years in Pittsburgh—lead the department and its officers to a place where social and racial justice intersect with problem-solving oriented, community-based law enforcement.” Forgive my crassness, but could you please excuse me for a moment while I puke my guts out?

What worthless, leftist drivel. He didn’t get “a chance” in Pittsburgh because the cops there voted no-confidence in McLay as their chief of police. And, with ideologically left-saturated statements like the one above, it’s no mystery why the city’s cops voted no-confidence.

Reportedly, McLay’s withdrawal came just after he’d given every indication, including the statement above, that he truly wanted the position. Joining the mayor in flip-flopping, in a written statement, McLay now says he “can most effectively support Seattle’s continued reform efforts outside the role of chief of police.” This makes cops observing this muddle do two things: first, sigh with relief knowing McLay won’t be their chief and, second, wince in anticipation of whatever role the mayor has for him—a shadow police chief, perhaps?

McLay is another one of those lefties who believes people haven’t gotten behind him and his ideas because he just hasn’t communicated them well enough. In responding to questions about the Pittsburgh police no-confidence vote, he said one challenge “is to more clearly communicate the vision, so that everybody understands. And two, make sure we get enough training so that members at the service delivery level, officers, detectives, sergeants, have the tools they need and know that they can succeed.” Stop it, Chief—I got nothing left to vomit. Pittsburgh police officers understand you and your ideas just fine; they reject them, and so will Seattle’s cops.

This Best/McLay controversy is demonstrating in reverse what I wrote about how the mayor and city council view rank-and-file cop support. Seattle cops’ support for Best is the proverbial “kiss of death” from Mayor Durkan’s apparent viewpoint. On the contrary, it seems, at least as far as the mayor is concerned, Pittsburgh cops’ disdain for McLay translates to an apparent social justice knighthood.

With Mayor Jenny Durkan, Timothy DeVore, Chief Carmen Best and Chief Marc Garth Green. (Credit: Facebook/Lori Faulkner DeVore)

We have to remember, Mayor Durkan did come out of the Obama/Holder Department of Justice, so there’s that. Judging from everything we’ve been learning about the massive corruption in the DOJ leadership, it looks like she fit right in. And since she was a big part of the fraudulent consent decree inflicted on Seattle’s police officers, I think sufficient evidence exists supporting my contentions. So, I suppose we should expect a torrent of political shenanigans for the remainder of her tenure in Seattle.

Moving forward, a quality candidate is back in the mix. My sense is public pressure will make it incredibly difficult for Mayor Durkan not to choose Carmen Best as Seattle’s next permanent police chief. It’s likely the mayor would suffer the same backlash she just experienced. Though a far-left ideologue, stupid is not one of the mayor’s descriptors. I could be wrong, but I just don’t think she’s going to want to spend any more of her nearly depleted political capital on yet another flip-flop.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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