Police Staffing Crisis: Chief Carmen Best points to Seattle City Council
October 5, 2021
Change Washington adviser and former Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best cited lack of support from Seattle City Council as one reason more than 300 police officers have left SPD in recent years.
Police officers “want to feel like they have a decent budget, like their job isn’t at risk every single day that, they’re appreciated for the work that they’re doing” Best told Change Washington. “That doesn’t mean that if somebody does something wrong, they don’t get disciplined for it or even fired. We want to have the best of the best…but the council can help with that by not talking about defunding them, but by giving them a budget for appropriate equipment, giving them additional resources.”
Best mentioned that an area the council could focus on is bringing in mental health providers to work with police or respond to calls where traditionally police have been called. “If you want to bring mental health providers in, we would love to see that” Best said, but added police likely still play a critical role in some mental health cases. “There has to be more intervention and prevention for people who have mental health issues and addiction issues, that is a big part of public safety. Not necessarily a crime, but often people in crisis commit crimes and they do things that are very dangerous.”
On police reforms, Best added that “there needs to be real leadership” involving all the stakeholders that includes community members and what they want to see and how they want to see these things addressed.
“I don’t think there’s anybody out there who wants less safety, they all want more. And so, let’s just figure out a way of providing the right resources to get us there” Best said.
Best added that it’s time for city leaders to bring people together. “Right now, everyone is so polarized and politicizing, every single thing. But public safety is not a red or blue issue. It’s a people issue, right? It can’t just be a free for all where you’re allowed to commit criminal acts and, you know, uh, because it only will proliferate and become worse for everybody. No one wins in that circumstance. No one.”