Carmen Best, Retired Chief, Seattle Police Department
Carmen Best, Chief of Police Seattle (Retired) served with the Seattle Police Department for 28 years, beginning as an entry-level patrol officer and later becoming the first African American woman Chief of Police, managing approximately 2000 sworn and civilian employees before retiring in 2020. Prior to becoming Chief of Police, she served as Deputy Chief, overseeing the Patrol Operations, Investigations, and Special Operations Bureaus, as well as the Community Outreach section. Among her many accomplishments as Chief of Police was her creation of the Collaborative Police Bureau, a segment of the SPD encouraging community partnerships and engagement. As Chief of Police, she and the SPD were the nation’s immediate responders to implement first responder safety protocols and practices in response to COVID-19. Best also facilitated record-breaking diversity hiring and recruitment within the department.
Carmen Best has lived in the Pacific Northwest her entire life, outside of her service in the United States Army and has received dozens of awards for her contributions to community engagement, public safety, gender equity, and diversity and inclusion. She received the “Newsmaker of the Year” award from the Seattle Black Press, the “Vision from the Mountain Top” award from Urban Impact for her commitment to justice and community, the “Influential Woman of 2020” award from the Puget Sound Business Journal and the FBI National Executive Institute Associates (NEIA) National Law Enforcement Ethics Award 2020. She was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, dedicated to recognizing individuals who selflessly contribute to society and uphold the ideals of America, an award read into the Congressional Record. Additionally, Ms. Best was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on the public safety announcements “Safe in the Sound.”
Best serves as the Leadership Council Chair for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Seattle. She is a board member for United Way of King County, a member of the St. Jude Advisory Council for Seattle, and the Seattle University Criminal Justice Advisory Committee and the co-chair of the Human and Civil Rights Committee (HCRC) for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). She is a former member of the IACP Board of Directors, and co-chair of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force (LEITF) - groups with which she maintains affiliation.
She is a contributor to MSNBC, CNBC and NBC News affiliates and a law enforcement analyst for KING 5 news in Seattle. She is regularly requested as a subject matter expert and keynote speaker, both locally and nationally on a variety of topics: leadership, reimagining policing, police reform, race, women in policing, and diversity and inclusion.
Best has a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University. She has completed the FBI National Executive Institute (NEI), the FBI National Academy, the Criminal Justice Executive Leadership Academy, the Major Cities Chiefs Association’s Police Executive Leadership Institute and the Senior Management Institute for Police.
Ms. Best is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the National Latino Police Officers Association (NLPOA) and is the mother of two adult daughters and enjoys hiking in her spare time.