by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
| Aug 16, 2020
Hearing of Chief Best’s abrupt retirement generated shock, sadness, and grave concern over the process and how the decisions were reached by our Council. This letter is not to defend the actions of our Seattle Police Department during the protests on Capitol Hill, but to register our surprise and disappointment at recent events.
GSBA has consistently demonstrated our commitment to addressing systemic racism in all our institutions, including in the police and justice departments. We strongly support the demilitarization of the police department and, as ever, look forward to working with City leaders to address the need for change. However, these issues do not erase the dedicated service of a 28-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department. Carmen Best devoted most of her professional life to protecting the safety and security of the City of Seattle, its citizens, and visitors. Her importance, contributions, and significance to this city have been well documented by multiple associations, organizations, and individuals.
GSBA and its members have been grateful beneficiaries of Chief Best’s focus and efforts to build community between the SPD and the LGBTQ population. Long before she was Police Chief, she proactively worked to create understanding and commonality among those whom might otherwise have been less inclined.
Chief Best was a well-respected police officer who rose through the ranks, with a stellar record, and support from both her community and her rank and file officers, earned over decades of service. That makes it all the more shocking that in a city where there has been ample discussion during the last few years about the salaries of department executives related to their performance, the first time the Council passed a salary cut of a department head was by targeting that of the first Black woman to serve as Police Chief, and not conferring with her directly over that and other significant actions affecting the Department.
We cannot change the events of the past week, but GSBA implores every member of the City Council and Mayor Durkan to put aside their differences to come together in a respectful manner to help our city weather the enormous obstacles we currently face. To succeed in dismantling racism in our City will require us all to work through difficult conversations to address the severe problems in our society and especially in our Police Department. There has never been a more critical time when responsible leadership is essential to help us create a more just and inclusive environment in our city.
GSBA President & CEO