This afternoon, the City Council voted 8-0 to confirm Carmen Best as Chief of the Seattle Police Department.
The confirmation came as no surprise, as Best had strong support in the community and vocal support from most Council members during the confirmation hearings.
Council member Kshama Sawant, who was the most critical of Best, grudgingly voted to approve her nomination, though in her remarks today she made clear that she was far from happy about it. She cited Best’s answers to some of her questions in last week’s hearing, including whether there was inherent bias in the police department, how she would have handled the January 2017 protest at Sea-Tac Airport, and whether so-called “sweeps” of homeless camps are acceptable practice, as evidence that “at this point we should not view this appointment with any illusions that it will lead to fundamental change.” “What my vote does represent,” Sawant said, “is a vote of solidarity with my black and brown fellow community members who overwhelmingly have urged me to not stand in the way of Best’s appointment.”
The Council members voted to attach to Best’s confirmation record a letter from Council President Harrell and Council member Gonzalez that lists the Council’s expectations for Best in her role as Chief of Police, including twelve “specific areas in which the Council would like to see considerable progress.”
- Continue to strengthen the Department’s training;
- Strengthen misconduct and supervisor discipline;
- Maximize deployment of neighborhood policing officers;
- Reduce crime and achieve public safety goals;
- Increase public trust in police and comply with the race and social justice initiative;
- Maintain compliance with the Consent Decree;
- Improve upon communication and transparency with the city’s police oversight entities;
- Extend the community policing culture throughout the department;
- Improve the quality of criminal investigations;
- Improve relations between the Council and SPD;
- Create staff development and succession planning programs.
- Address the lack of time and scheduling systems for on-duty and off-duty employment.
On an administrative note, Council member Rob Johnson was absent from today’s meeting, but one of his colleagues read a statement from him in support of Best’s confirmation.