As protesters push for "defunding police", city councils across America have difficult decisions ahead. Several officers nationally are resigning or retiring early.
In Seattle on Monday, Police Chief Carmen Best resigned the same day the council voted to reduce her department by as many 100, while reducing her salary and the salary of her command staff.
“It’s about the overwhelming lack of respect for the officers,” Best said. “It goes against my principles and conviction, and I really couldn’t do it.”
Cedar Hill’s Police Chief Ely Reyes spoke about the resignation with WFAA on Tuesday. He was a finalist for the Seattle police chief job in 2018 that ultimately went to Best.
“If that’s the choice she’s making, I completely understand,” Reyes said.
Reyes recently took over in Cedar Hill and he said he’s thrilled to be in a city with strong support for police from all city leadership, something critical for the success of any police chief.
“I think we’re in a very unique situation in Cedar Hill where we have overwhelming support from our community, our city council, and mayor and city management,” said Reyes.
" It’s been unfortunate that many of these, truly progressive police chiefs across this country are being put in a position where they are being forced to resign or making that personal decision to resign because for whatever personal reason, or maybe feeling like they are no longer effective," he continued.
Early retirements and resignations are happening in law enforcement across America.
“We see officers walking out the door, we’ve had more police officers retire this year at this point than we have in the last 30 years,” Fort Worth Police Officer Association President Manny Ramirez said. “Just last year, we saw a 60% decrease in the number of applications around the nation to become police officers and we know it’s going to be far worse this year."
The City of Fort Worth is currently searching for a police chief in this tense time, and even though the police department has received support from city council and the community, the department is still slightly concerned about finding its next leader.
“We know what we have to do for our next police chief is recruit for integrity. We have to have somebody who has the will to stand up and say no, you have to support your police in order for us to be effective,” Ramirez said. “The bottom line is when your profession is turned into a political football you can see why these police chiefs are walking away at record pace.”
But demonstrators continue their passionate efforts to re-imagine funding for public safety.
“I’m excited that we’re being listened to,” Humza Khan said.
Khan was among the protesters arrested on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas.
“I think there’s a little bit of a disconnect between what the community would consider a good cop and what the police department might consider a good cop,” Khan said. “The defund movement for a good cop should be exciting, because it’s simplifying their job. They’re no longer crime fighters, mental health professionals, emergency medical responders, we’re letting them just be cops.”
So as city councils begin discussions on police funding, they face a challenging balancing act – how do you please protesters in the community while keeping the good cops around?
“I just hope for the sake of our country, for the sake of America, that we see that spread across the nation where that support for police comes back,” Ramirez said. “You also have to understand that these men and women, they are citizens too. They are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, and whenever they go home at night they want to be safe also.”