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Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best details racism and sexism she endured on duty in a new book

Best served with the Seattle Police Department for 28 years, including two years as the chief of police. Her new book "Black in Blue" details racism she encountered.

SEATTLE — Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best is opening up about her personal experience with racism in a new book called, "Black in Blue." 

Best, a Tacoma native, joined the Seattle Police Department (SPD) in 1992, working as an officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and deputy chief before becoming the first Black woman to lead Seattle’s police force. She served as Seattle's police chief from January 2018 to September 2020. 

Best said she was excluded from any Seattle City Council discussions about department cuts and program changes. After the council made sweeping budget cuts to SPD, Best resigned. 

After her departure, Best worked for a private security firm and as a law enforcement analyst for KING 5 News.

RELATED: Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best will serve as KING 5 law enforcement analyst

Her new book delves into the personal and painful experiences she endured during her SPD career. Best wrote in the book's introduction, "I have experienced firsthand how excruciatingly present and just how deeply rooted racism and sexism are in every aspect of society. And yes, that does include policing.”

She said the treatment started from day one of her career, often being singled out as the only Black female recruit in her class. 

"I kept overhearing people talk about me in rather derogatory terms," Best said. 

She writes about resiliency in her new book. Best says, despite obstacles, anyone can be a leader. She says it begins with tuning out the negative and listening to the most important voice – your own.

RELATED: Three departing women Seattle city leaders discuss challenges at the top

Throughout her career, Best said she fought for representation for women and people of color. She stresses that the police force "still is a good place for women to work.” 

Now in 2021, Best is traveling the country, sharing her ideas on re-imagining policing, pushing for national standards and staying open to the possibilities of what may come. 

Credit: KING 5

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