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Mayor Durkan, Chief Best say Seattle police need to return to East Precinct

Mayor Durkan on Monday, June 22. (Seattle Channel)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says the Seattle Police Department needs to return to the East Precinct to be able to respond to calls from the community.

During a news conference Monday, the mayor said SPD will return to the precinct, peacefully and in the near future.

“We have to make sure that any resident, any business, or any visitor that calls for help gets the help they need,” Durkan said.

Seattle leaders, organizers mull changes in CHOP after weekend violence

Police Chief Carmen Best echoed that message Monday, saying that her officers need to get back to the East Precinct. Moving forward, Best is committed to community-led change.

“I want to look to tomorrow, to next week, and to next year,” Best said. “We all know that policing is never going to be the same as it was. … It can’t be. And it shouldn’t be.”

As for the CHOP, Durkan said it wouldn’t be wise for police officers to clear out the area. Instead, the city is working with community leaders and organizers to help reduce the number of people in the area and clean up the streets, buildings, and remove barriers.

Durkan recognized that the majority of people in the CHOP are peaceful and spreading an important message, but said the situation is very different at night. The circumstances are also increasingly difficult for businesses and residents, she added.

The mayor believes individuals and organizations can continue to gather peacefully in Capitol Hill and elsewhere in the city, but the disorder and the impact of violence in Capitol Hill is at odds with the message of justice and equity.

“We cannot let acts of violence define this movement for change,” Durkan said.

While a return to the East Precinct is necessary in the short-term, both Durkan and Best spoke to the importance of community-led conversations and reform in the long-term.

“While the physical space is important, we are going to focus our greatest efforts on re-imagining policing itself,” Durkan said.

“We cannot move forward as a community, as a city, or as a police department unless all of us work together,” Best added.

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