SPD Chief: Decision to leave precinct wasn’t hers, claims city ‘relented to public pressure’
In an address to Seattle police officers, Chief Carmen Best said the decision to leave the East Precinct was not hers, adding that the city “relented to severe public pressure.”
“I want to update you all on the situation at the East Precinct,” Best said. “The decision to board up the precinct, our precinct, our home, the first precinct I worked in, was something I had been holding off. You should know leaving the precinct was not my decision. You fought for days to protect it, I asked you to stand on that line day in and day out, to be pelted with projectiles, to be screamed at, threatened, and in some cases, hurt. Then to have a change of course nearly two weeks in, it seems like an insult to you and our community.”
Best opened her message referring to the Seattle Police Department as her family, and recognizing that this is one of the toughest times in the history of the SPD.
“I know how incredibly difficult these past two weeks have been for you and for your families,” she said. “To thank you will never probably be enough, but thank you.”
“This department cares about you, I care about you, and although it may not seem true at this moment, your community cares about you,” Best added.
While Best expected this message to be shared with the public, she said she’s not worried about that and stands by her comments.
“I am angry about how this all came about,” Best said. “I understand that my comments and this message may be leaked to the public, but I’m not concerned about that. I stand by what I’m saying.”
Best said the department had credible tips that anti-government groups would destroy the precinct once officers left, through vandalism or arson. Seattle Fire Department was stationed nearby to protect the precinct and the residential buildings in the neighborhood from a “real risk” of fire.
“This week, there have been demonstrations and what I understand were threats against a news reporter on Capitol Hill,” Best said. “There was vandalism to our city streets and our building. But today, the precinct remains standing.”
“No officers were hurt, no force was used,” she added.
Best said they’ve heard reports of armed people “patrolling” the streets near 12th and Pine. There have also been reports of these armed people asking for payment from business owners in exchange for protection.
Q13’s Brandi Kruse reported calling several businesses in the area, garnering “three firm denials” of protesters in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone extorting them. The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce also told The Seattle Times that it hadn’t heard any reports of extortion.
“We’ve also heard that they may be demanding to see identification from people who live in the area. This is not legal,” Best said. “And we’ve asked anyone who may be experiencing this to come forward and file a police report so that we can investigate these crimes.”
Best closed her message by saying she is thankful and grateful for all the officers.
“You are doing such incredible work, but I know you feel underappreciated,” she said. “However, I do believe that most people in Seattle support the police department and its officers even though they may not be the ones posting on social media. They and I will continue to have your backs, to support you, and appreciate all that you are doing in the name of public safety.”