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Chief’s Letter to the Community: Re-envisioning Community Safety Together

I, and the entire Seattle Police Department, have heard loud and clear the demands of so many in the community.  We understand what gives voice to these appeals.  We acknowledge the history of policing, and we commit to growing and improving policing. 

The SPD has fostered trust during the past 10 years under the federal consent decree, but we know there’s more work to be done. We are committed to learning from our past.  

There is absolutely no question: we will do better. 

The Seattle Police Department is a national model for modern policing because of its commitment to continuous   
improvement. We met and exceeded every component of the consent decree.  

We continue to demonstrate that we are devoted to innovation. We embrace transparency and oversight, and have one of the most robust accountability systems in the country that includes the civilian-led Office of Police Accountability, the Office of Inspector General and the Community Police Commission.  

We know there is room for improvement. That is why these systems are in place; so we can learn, evolve and hold accountable those who knowingly violate policies or public trust.  

Your police department hears you. I hear you.  

The SPD has engaged in these community conversations for years. We will continue to do so. Through this work we have learned we cannot always expect to know what is best for the community. We know there are ways we can function more efficiently and more equitably.  We know the community has great ideas. We are not going to make these important decisions without community input.  

We have started this process – and will continue to put in the hard work – to make improvements.  We expect you to hold us accountable.   

The SPD is a model of transparency and we will continue to expand on public accountability. In that spirit, we have launched this web site that tracks our efforts towards re-envisioning community safety.  This site features in-depth information on the department’s policies regarding de-escalation, use of force, demilitarization and implicit bias training.  The site also details how community members can access crime data, SPD manuals, the calls for service dashboard, and much more. 

The members of the Seattle Police Department work for the people of Seattle.  The SPD is a part of the community, not a part from the community.  We are optimistic about re-envisioning public safety together.  

Carmen Best

Chief of Police