Former Seattle police chief reportedly on short list to lead NYPD
Carmen Best, who left Seattle PD amid a tumultuous year, is reportedly among three "front-runners"
By Lewis Kamb
The Seattle Times
SEATTLE — Former Police Chief Carmen Best, who oversaw the Seattle Police Department during the city’s tumultuous 2020 racial-justice protests, is reportedly a finalist to lead the New York Police Department.
Citing multiple unnamed sources, the New York Post reported Wednesday that Best is among three candidates considered “front-runners” on New York Mayor-Elect Eric Adams’ short list for police chief consisting of six to eight women. The New York Times also reported Wednesday, based on an unnamed source, that Best is among “at least two Black women” under Adams’ consideration for the NYPD commissioner’s job.
Best, during an interview with The Seattle Times on Wednesday about her new book, “Black in Blue: Lessons on Leadership, Breaking Barriers, and Racial Reconciliation,” brought up the Post report from the start of the discussion, saying she didn’t want to comment or talk about it.
When asked later in the interview if she’d ever consider being a police chief again, she responded: “When it comes to the future, I’m not ruling anything out.”
Others cited in the Post’s report as potential candidates to lead the nation’s largest police department include Philadelphia police Chief Danielle Outlaw and former Newark, New Jersey, Police Chief Ivonne Roman. The Times report referenced NYPD’s current patrol chief, Juanita Holmes, as another potential candidate.
With more than 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees, the New York City police agency dwarfs the roughly 1,200-officer Seattle department that Best headed for two years before abruptly leaving amid the fallout and budget cuts of the 2020 demonstrations.
After initially being passed over for the top job in Seattle, Best, then interim chief, was named the permanent chief in 2018 by Mayor Jenny Durkan after a community uproar. She led the department amid last year’s weekslong racial justice and police reform protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
Best, 56, who became a frequent guest on national cable TV talk shows during the unrest, announced her abrupt retirement from the chief’s job after City Council proposals to slash the department’s budget.
In her book, which was released last week, Best blames the council’s treatment of her and its pursuit of 50% police funding cuts as the reason for her departure. Parts of the book about what happened during the events of 2020 have been disputed by council members and others critical of the department’s use of tear gas and other heavy-handed tactics under Best’s command that drew public outrage, lawsuits and a federal judge’s contempt order against SPD.
In June, former City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell, who now appears headed to victory in Seattle’s race for mayor, said in an interview with The Seattle Times he considered Best a “model” police chief he still seeks advice from about public-safety issues. Harrell likely will preside over the selection of the city’s next chief of the Seattle department, which faces a staffing crisis and remains under federal oversight under a consent decree.
Asked in June if he would consider bringing Best back, Harrell said: “I won’t exclude that at all.”
Best, in her interview Wednesday, said she has “a huge amount of respect” for Harrell, but added: “I’m not considering being the chief in Seattle again.”
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