Military and Police

Carmen Best is Seattle’s New Police Chief After All

Let’s close out this final chapter of Seattle’s latest search for a permanent police chief for the Seattle Police Department (SPD). According to Q13 Fox News, it seems Seattle government has come to its senses after all. I’m pleased to report that the first chapter in Carmen Best’s role as the city’s new police chief has begun.

Chief Best is a 26-year SPD veteran and former deputy chief under former Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. Full disclosure, I served under Best when she was a sergeant. To put in a nutshell what I’ve previously mentioned, she was the kind of supervisor who took care of her officers. From an officer’s perspective, what more is there to say?

I’d previously reported Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan had excluded Best from the list of the three finalists under consideration for the permanent chief position. This tone-deaf decision caused an eruption in the city that shook both the liberal civil rights community and the more conservative Seattle Police Officers Guild who represent the department’s rank and file—something so rare, I would have thought the Israelis and Palestinians would have come together before that happened.

But what struck me most were the news video and photos I saw depicting a now delighted Mayor Durkan, basking in the glow of her new police chief. You know, the person who would not have been considered if the mayor had her way.

Nonetheless, there Mayor Durkan is, an ear-to-ear smile, soaking in all the political capital she can absorb for making the selection and, presumably, happy to leave her latest political faux pas in the past.

“Today, I am proud to nominate the best person for the job: Interim Chief Carmen Best,” Mayor Durkan said. Best person? If she was the best choice, then why did you exclude her, Your Honor? My, my, things change quickly when you govern by sticking a moist finger in the wind.

Chief Best said, “I am excited to lead the men and women of this great agency. It is my commitment to you that I will move the department ahead on continued improvement and innovation.”

Improvement and innovation. Refreshingly, no talk of reform. This is important to the great men and women of the Seattle Police Department who never deserved that bogus federal consent decree (you knew I had to sneak that in there). A decree inflicted on the department by the feds assisted by Mayor Durkan when she was the U.S. Attorney in Seattle.

Best is replacing her former boss, Kathleen O’Toole, whom it seemed, loved Seattle, appreciated her cops, but got fed up with the city’s lunatic politics. For Chief Best, this brand of politics will be nothing new. She’s spent the last quarter century dealing with it from patrol officer to police chief.

I wish her luck walking the political tightrope I believe she is uniquely qualified to walk. Still, this is Seattle, and, as talented as she is, she will need all the luck she can get.

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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