American News Aug 21, 2020 1:45 PM EST

Seattle faith leaders want the police chief back

Faith leaders, leaders from communities of color and police reform advocates called on Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best to reconsider her decision to retire.

Seattle faith leaders want the police chief back
Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA
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In a press conference Thursday, faith leaders, leaders from communities of color and police reform advocates called on Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best to reconsider her decision to retire.

The leaders, including Rev. Leslie Blackwell, also called on the Seattle City Council to repair the damage the council has done to the community by targeting the Chief.

Blackwell said that "I believe her [Best's] return would be a moment of redemption for our city. If it remains as it is, I think we have a difficult path moving forward. I think we'll have a troubled time trying to find real talent to come and replace her. Who would want to come to a city where the Chief can be so maliciously targeted via the city budget. Our city right now in the public mind is an occupational hazard."

Chief Best resigned following the council’s decision to cut over 100 officer positions in the Seattle Police Department. The Seattle city council faced national condemnation for the move which also targeted the salary of the first African American woman to hold the job as Seattle Police Chief.

Some Council members like Marxist member Kshama Sawant, were unrepentant of the cuts and specifically those to Chief Best's salary.

A recent Gallup Poll found that more than 80 percent of Black Americans favor a police presence in their area equal to current levels or more. When asked if they wanted the police to spend more time, the same amount of time or less time in their neighborhoods, 61 percent of Black adults surveyed prefer the presence remain the same. The finding is similar to US adults at 67 percent and White Americans, of which 71 percent preferred authorities spend the same amount of time in their area.

Thursday's press conference is the latest in a growing pattern emerging of minority communities pushing back on cuts to police departments across the country. Last month, leaders in the black community of New York City, as well as black city council members called on the New York Police Department to handle the recent crime surge in the city.

They demanded that the plainclothes anti-crime unit that Mayor Bill DeBlasio had recently dismantled be reinstated. De Blasio and Police Commissioner Shea had pulled the unit in response to anti-police protests and riots in the wake of the death of George Floyd. CBS New York reported. "This, as shootings for the week went up 277 percent, 49 compared to 13 in 2019. The number of victims is up 253 percent, 60 compared to 17 in 2019."

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