Carmen Best rose to the Seattle Police Department’s top spot in August 2018, she knew she was inheriting a department under pressure.

A federal judge was monitoring Seattle’s police, which had been faulted for a pattern of excessive force during a 2011 Justice Department probe. A string of police killings, including one that saw officers gun down a pregnant mother in her own home, energized calls for police reform in the city. Regular clashes between a hardcore set of anti-police demonstrators and cops had become something of a sport.

Brought in with a to-do list of reforms, Best lasted just two years. The 28-year department veteran resigned in August as the City Council prepared to answer the call to “defund the police” raised by protesters nationwide since George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police on May 25.

In resigning, Best joined a wave of reform-minded police leaders stepping down across the country, several of the nation’s handful of Black police chiefs among them. Dallas police Chief U. Reneé Hall – like Best, the first Black woman to lead that city’s department – resigned Sept. 8. Rochester, New York, police Chief La’Ron Singletary and Portland, Oregon, police Chief Jami Resch also stepped down over the summer.

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