Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Seattle's chief of police has announced her retirement, weeks after the start of mass protests spurred by the death of George Floyd and a move by leaders to cut 100 police positions.
Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best said in an email memo Monday she will retire effective Sept. 2. The announcement took many by surprise.
"This was a difficult decision for me, but when it's time, it's time," she wrote. "I am confident the department will make it through these difficult times."
Best, the first Black woman to lead the department, is a 28-year Seattle police veteran and was appointed chief in 2018.
"While I understand the Chief's reasons, I accepted her decision with a very heavy heart," Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wrote in a memo to police employees. "I have had the privilege to be with Chief Carmen Best in so many situations: with her family, at roll calls, in community meetings, and in nearly weekly meetings addressing public safety in Seattle. Her grit, grace and integrity have inspired me and made our city better."
Best has been criticized by elected officials of color for allowing police to use tear gas to disperse protesters after Floyd's May 25 death.
Also Monday, the Seattle City Council approved cuts to the police budget after weeks of demonstrators calling for reductions in funding. The measure includes eliminating 100 jobs through layoffs or attrition and will reduce spending by about $3.5 million.
Durkan and Best have scheduled a news conference for Tuesday.