Skip to main content

Interim no longer: Carmen Best named next Seattle Police Chief

caption: Carmen Best, center, smiles while standing with her husband, left, and Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan, right, during a press conference on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, at City Hall in Seattle. Tap or click on the first image to see more.
Enlarge Icon
1 of 4 Carmen Best, center, smiles while standing with her husband, left, and Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan, right, during a press conference on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, at City Hall in Seattle. Tap or click on the first image to see more.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

After public uproar following the initial selection for the city's new head of police, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Tuesday morning that Interim Police Chief Carmen Best would be taking over the role permanently.

Best, 53, had a fraught path to the top job. She was the only internal candidate, but was snubbed in May when she wasn't included in the final round of hiring selections.

This caused a fracas among her supporters, both within the department and outside of it.

The city put Best back in the running because one of the three finalists withdrew from the process — Cameron McLay, former Pittsburgh police chief.

But Durkan said at a Tuesday press conference that she and Best would be discussing further how McLay may work on reform in the department. Durkan praised McLay's previous work in police reform.

"He is very enthusiastic about helping, we are very enthusiastic about him helping," Durkan said. "We can't afford to slip on the consent decree and reform."

Best has been with the department for 26 years and helped oversee those court-ordered reforms. Durkan said having someone who understands Seattle and the consent decree was critical.

Best said that the department has seen a 60 percent reduction in the most serious use of force.

"We know the work is not done — not in Seattle and not across the c0untry," she added.

"We’re at the stage where we need to work really hard to make sure that all of those reforms are embedded in the culture of the organization, that the culture is continuously improving and innovating and moving forward,” Best told KUOW in an interview last week.

City Councilmember M. Lorena Gonzalez will oversee the confirmation process. The earliest Best could be confirmed would be August 13 after a series of public hearings.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Additional reporting by Alison Bruzek and Isolde Raftery.

Why you can trust KUOW