Chief Best will be missed
When I read the news of Chief Carmen Best’s decision to resign, I felt like my grandmother died. Why my grandmother? I am older than Chief Best, and I’ve never even met her. It’s about respect, trust and confidence.
Her commitment to our city and her style — collaborative, wise and compassionate — made her a solid leader during this time of much-needed change. She seemed more interested in being of service than in power. Hers is perhaps the most difficult role in our community right now, and she was willing to continue to do the hard work of leading through a time of change — until she wasn’t.
I totally understand and support her decision. Based on the City Council’s reactive leadership on public-safety budgeting, I don’t think Seattle deserves Chief Best.
We may bemoan the divisiveness in national politics today. But I am flabbergasted at the divisiveness in politics locally, which has been worsening over the last several years. If our elected officials cannot find a way to work together, what hope do we have as a community?
Chief Best, I wish you well and thank you for your service.
Nota Lucas, Seattle
‘Reign of terror’
There has been yet another shooting in my downtown neighborhood — at Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, at 1:30 in the afternoon on Aug. 13.
Cutting the police force and its budget without tried-and-true plans in place to strengthen security in this besieged neighborhood is madness.
The Seattle City Council has amply demonstrated that it will not listen. Its arrogance and dismissiveness were proven during the Local Improvement District hearings.
This council has made life in downtown Seattle a reign of terror.
Shame on this city council. All its members should be impeached. Voters must find a way to send them all packing.
Deborah Bogin Cohen, Seattle
‘We are all to blame for the loss of Best’
As a member of the LGBTQ Advisory Council, ex-chair of the Community Policing Acting Council and member of Mayor Paul Schell’s Less Lethal task force, I have a long-term interest in the Seattle Police Department.
I watched Seattle go through a long, expensive search for a police chief. In Carmen Best, we got the very best chief possible, who knew our community; was respected by officers; had the confidence of the federal employees working on our consent decree; who was not opposed to innovation; and who had the command ability to implement less confrontational ways of policing.
Now nine non-Black City Council members decided to change SPD unilaterally without talking to the chief and voted to cut her wages.
If it was easy to do a recall, I would start one on each council member who unfairly treated our police chief and are ruining the morale of our police department.
I realize that I, too, share some of the blame. I research my council-member candidates before I vote but pay little attention elsewhere in the city. It is our inattention that has given us this disastrous City Council, and we are all to blame for the loss of Best.
Richard Wildermuth, Seattle
The public display of tension between the Seattle Police Department and protesters brought to private residences of city leaders is not violent, unlawful, or an invasion of privacy.
The real escalation of violence began as civilians were tear gassed in their own apartments, when filming acts of violence by the police classified journalists as criminals, when no-knock warrants allow police officers to enter homes without consent.
Why is a march in front of a public official’s home considered “violence” yet the violence perpetrated by the police is tolerated? Why are protesters — regular civilians and residents who speak up against injustices — held to higher standards than police?
The “lack of respect” for officers stems from the lack of respect for our civil rights and liberties. The outrage expressed these past months did not begin with George Floyd’s murder; it is the consequence of many injustices that burden Black and brown communities, queer and trans folk, and the poor.
Let’s stand for what is right and defend civilians exercising their rights before this devolves into the new way of doing business by authoritarian rule in Seattle and across the nation.
Mayumi Alino, Seattle
Council, walk with me
Since Seattle City Council is so confident that it is taking the most fundamental function of city government, public safety, and making it better with its irresponsible actions and slanderous rhetoric, I want to challenge each of the council members to take a walk in the evening downtown in my neighborhood, without security or police escort. Alone.
Maybe at about 8 or 9 p.m. when people downtown should be strolling home after dinner out or waiting for a bus after a late night in the office. Go from City Hall, past the courthouse to Third Avenue, then up Third Avenue to Pike Street. If they make it that far, I’d be happy to meet them for a socially distanced drink to discuss public-safety issues downtown. That is something they have been steadfastly uninterested in discussing for this entire “debate.”
And if they won’t take that walk, ask why any residents, tourists or office workers should. Why should I have to make that walk? Why should my neighbors? Are they brave enough to personally face the consequences of their vote?
I welcome the conversation with any of them willing to have it. We still live here. We deserve to be safe.
Gene Burrus, Seattle
I want to register my deep disappointment in the City Council.
Seattle has always had a hard time finding a chief of police. The council has now made it even more difficult by cutting the chief of police’s salary. Knowing of Seattle’s high cost-of-living, and also considering the profound additional challenges and responsibilities they must face in reforming the department added to duties the job traditionally requires, why would anyone take the position for less than competitive salary and with the threat of a salary cut hanging over their head?
In this decision, alongside other salary cuts in the law enforcement division, the council has made it even harder for our municipal workforce to live in community within the city that employs them.
Also, instead of firing the newest police officers, why not offer early retirement to the longest serving officers? First, this would reduce the amount of money needed to fund the police department. Second, the potential for change in our justice system’s culture — currently fostering systemic racism, police brutality and excessive force — could be greater if the department were working with a force that had the “old ways” less deeply ingrained in them.
John Edmundson, Seattle