Seattle groups raise questions after police chief finalists exclude Carmen Best

Interim Police Chief Carmen Best at her swearing in ceremony in January. Community groups raised questions after Best did not make the final list of candidates for the permanent position. (Photo by Seattle Police Department via Facebook.)

Several community groups and the police union raised questions about the selection process after interim Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, the city’s first African-American woman to serve as police chief, was left off the final list of candidates for the permanent position.

Best, a 26-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department, was promoted to interim chief after Chief Kathleen O’Toole left in 2017.

The three men named as finalists are from outside the department — Eddie Frizell, Inspector, Minneapolis Police Department; Cameron S. McLay, Former Chief of Police, City of Pittsburgh; and Ely Reyes, Assistant Chief, Austin Police Department.

Best was among the top five finalists put forth to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office by a police chief selection committee, but according to Crosscut, a group of Durkan’s advisors cut the committee’s list down to three.

Search committee member Tim Burgess, who served as mayor and on the city council, told several news organizations that the committee leaned toward bringing in someone from outside the department to implement reforms. The Seattle Police Department has been undergoing changes required by a 2012 federal order to address a pattern of excessive force.

But several Seattle police accountability groups told KOMO News that they were disappointed that Best was left off the finalist list. The Seattle Police Officers Guild also issued a statement saying that Best had been providing leadership on culture change in the department.

MyNorthwest.com reported that search committee members called for an examination of the process that omitted Best from the list of finalists.

Best issued a statement on Friday thanking Durkan for the opportunity and affirming that she would continue to serve on an interim basis until the new police chief is appointment.

Update: Several groups gathered at Seattle City Hall on Tuesday questioning the process, the Seattle Times reported.

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