This is a bad time to be a police chief. It’s really bad for black police chiefs, many of whom were elevated as part of diversity initiatives, only to find that major cities have moved from diversifying police to defunding them or calling for racial purges.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best appeared stunned this week when confronted with City Council member Lisa Herbold’s suggestion that laying off police officers due to a defunding of the department could be done by a race basis rather than seniority.
“It is illegal to make layoffs based on race,” Ms. Best promptly told a local CBS affiliate on Wednesday. “I’m not sure where she is getting her legal advice from, but the persons who are advising us are making sure we understand that it’s illegal to do that.”
“In the case layoffs are necessary, one threat is firing BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] officers first,” the council member tweeted Monday. “Chief can request the Public Safety Civil Service Commission ED for permission to lay off ‘out of order’ when doing so is in “the interest of efficient operations of his or her department.”
Carmen Best has already had to put up with CHOP/CHAZ, and running a police force that was abandoned by the city leaders.
“Our job is to support peaceful demonstration but what has happened on these streets over the last few weeks is lawless and it’s brutal and bottom line it is simply unacceptable,” Best told reporters.
Best said that while she supports peaceful demonstrations, “enough is enough.”
“The CHOP has become lawless and brutal,” Best said earlier Wednesday in a written statement. “Four shootings – two fatal – robberies, assaults, violence and countless property crimes have occurred in this several block area.”
I’m not a big fan of Best, who has a mixed record, but it’s fundamentally impossible for any police leader to function in this environment.