News and Commentary

Former Seattle Police Chief Says Media Downplayed Violence At CHOP To Make It Appear Peaceful
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best speaks to reporters at the scene of a shooting that left one person dead and seven injured, including a child, in downtown Seattle, Washington on January 22, 2020.
JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images

Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, who resigned last summer after the Seattle City Council voted to cut millions of dollars from the Seattle Police Department’s budget, recently acknowledged what most outside the mainstream media bubble already knew: That the media manipulated news coverage inside Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) to make it look less dangerous.

Best made the comments on Jerry Ratcliffe’s “Reducing Crime” podcast, explaining that the “destructive behavior” of the protesters “did not get the level of publicity or media attention” as the officer-involved deaths of George Floyd and others received.

“I would read stories about the peaceful protests. I go, ‘Well, part of it was peaceful.’ But I was standing 20 feet away from a hail of rocks. I was looking right at them hail down, feet from me. I was behind a telephone pole,” Best said.

Ratcliffe responded by saying: “And then you read the media and find that they’re pretty much gaslighting you. It never happened.”

Best said she was confused when reading about the interactions with rioters in the media, who claimed it was a “peaceful protest” and that protesters were unfairly and harshly targeted by police who threw tear gas and used pepper spray on them. Best said that they did use those tactics, but that their use “wasn’t arbitrary.”

“But certainly, we were trying to look as non-threatening as possible, maybe not have the riot shields up. But once we know we’re going to be getting rocks and bottles thrown at us, I have a responsibility as a chief to make sure people have protecting gear. We can’t just leave them out there with soft hat and rocks are being thrown and whatever,” she said.

As The Daily Wire previously reported, Best resigned after the Seattle City Council voted to cut about $3 million from the police budget, including:

  • Cut 32 officers from patrol – $533,000
  • Reduced specialized units including officers assigned to mounted unit, school resource officers, homeland security, harbor patrol, SWAT team – $250,000
  • Removed officers from Navigation Team, ensuring homeless neighbors are not retraumatized by armed patrol officers – $216,000
  • Reduced staff budget through recognizing expected attrition – $500,000
  • Reduced administrative costs, including salaries, community outreach, public affairs
  • Cut $56,000 from training and travel expenses
  • Cut recruitment and retention – $800,000
  • Transferred victim advocates from SPD to Human Services Department – $377,000 impact
  • Removed two sworn officer positions from the 911 Emergency Call Center

Best later wrote on Twitter that, although part of those cuts included a 40% reduction to her own salary, she didn’t resign because of the money, but because of “the disrespect shown all SPD officers.”

“The Council gave us $1.6 million to hire the best, brightest and most diverse. Now they want me to layoff 100 of those officers. I can’t do that,” Best wrote. “I don’t want the people who work for me to be impacted by the animus directed toward me. That animus felt personal.”

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