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Carmen Best unanimously confirmed as Seattle's first African American police chief

Carmen Best confirmed as Seattle police chief (Photo: KOMO)

The Seattle city council unanimously confirmed the appointment of Carmen Best to be police chief 8-0.

“Congratulations to Chief Carmen Best on her confirmation as the next Seattle Police Department’s Chief of Police,” said Councilmember Lorena González.

Best becomes the city's first African American to serve as police chief.

"It's great to be supported during the good times, but we're going to have tough times too," Best said.

Best joined the department 26 years ago, after a career in business and a stint in the army. While rising through the ranks she had two daughters and became deeply involved in the community.

After the vote, Chief Best promised to add officers, work closely with the community and follow through with mandates required under the federal consent decree.

Stunning the crowd, Councilmember Kshama Sawant voted “yes” in support of Best. She voted against former Chief Kathleen O’Toole. Sawant says she’s supporting people who pushed to have Best named as a candidate - after she was snubbed by the selection committee.

"I know this will surprise many, I will be voting yes today on Best's nomination," said Sawant.

But, Sawant made it clear the decision was made with some reservation.

"I'm not convinced Chief Best is prepared to carry out the kind of fundamental transformation that is needed," she said.

Best was originally left off the list of finalists. The move drew outrage from community activists and the Seattle Police Officers Guild. Mayor Jenny Durkan relented and appointed Best police chief.

"We stood up. We stood up for Carmen Best, the community said we believe in Carmen Best that she should have been on that list. We fought for this all the way," said Rev. Harriett Walden from Mothers for Police Accountability.

She served as Interim police chief beginning on Jan. 1, 2018 after Chief Kathleen O'Toole resigned. Best will oversee a department of more than 1,400 officers and nearly 600 civilians.

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