Groups calling for defunding of SPD respond to Chief Carmen Best’s retirement

For months, several organizations have called for the defunding of the Seattle Police Department, however not each group agrees on what the effects of losing Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best will mean for the city's goals.

"I have so many reactions: devastated, heart-broken, sad. Our city's in trouble," said Victoria Beach, the chairman of the African-American Community Advisory Council to SPD.

The goal of the council is to provide a voice for the African-American community when it comes to the police department. 

After hearing the announcement of Chief Best's departure with SPD, Beach said losing Best will make improving things in Seattle difficult.

“I don’t see us going forward, I see this as a huge step back," said Beach. 

Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, a local non-profit, is calling for the divestment of $100 million dollars of SPD’s budget to instead go toward community services.

The organization said losing Best as Chief is not the way to accomplish this goal.

"Today’s news of the retirement of Chief Carmen Best is a loss," the organization said in a statement. "It does nothing to further our fight for authentic police accountability and the safety of Black lives, that the first Black woman to hold the position of Chief of Police of the Seattle Police Department has been forced out of her job by the Seattle City Council.

Racism is racism. We demand the Seattle City Council stop prioritizing performative action that solely suggests the appearance of change. We demand transparency and accountability for the series of actions and inactions that led to Chief Best’s resignation. And we demand a successor that serves Black Lives."

King County Equity Now is also demanding change, saying they want at least half of SPD’s budget cut and invested into Black-led community-based organizations.

"The Seattle Police Department has a long, storied history of anti-Black racial violence. Unfortunately—yet predictably—this violence did not relent under Chief Best. That's because the task of rooting out anti-Black racism from the police department is too large for any one person," said King County Equity Now in a statement. 

"We are primarily concerned with the lived experiences and conditions of Black communities. Black representation in leadership positions is critical and necessary, but only as it works to upend the status quo and improve the health, safety, and equity of Black communities.

SPD requires significant divestment and wholesale structural change to adequately address Black peoples' well-being. And right now, Seattle’s Black community is staring down an economic cliff, facing bleak, only worsening economic conditions from COVID-19's fallout. Fortunately, a community-driven process is already underway to address this. We encourage the Mayor and Council to endorse the overwhelmingly supported BIPOC-led community process underway towards true public safety for all Seattle residents."