Chief Carmen Best: Police play a critical role in deterring gun violence
October 12, 2021
Change Washington Adviser and former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best believes that the recent spike in gun violence in Seattle requires both additional resources for police to respond, but also deter crimes.
“We do need to have more visibility with officers in the field so that there is a deterrent for people to gather in these large groups and things to get out of hand, and then we have a shooting or a stabbing that occurs” Best said.
Seattle is experiencing a rise in gun violence while more than 300 officers have left the police force. As KUOW reported recently, there were 420 gunfire cases in 2020 and 370 in 2021 by August alone. Best said that in her experience, police regularly can prevent crimes just by being present.
“I worked downtown off duty, and I can certainly tell you that there were people that I came across that definitely were probably getting ready to steal something or do something” Best recalled. “They look up and see a couple of cops and they’re like doo-dee-doo” and stop what they were doing.
Best said that city leaders need to support police and address the police staffing crisis while also articulating a plan to intervene to prevent gun violence in the first place.
“It doesn’t have to be either/or.”
“You can invest in your police department and support it and also have programs and interventions to help young people, to help people in mental distress…and things that lead to domestic violence” said Best. ”It’s not a one-size-fits-all.”
Best said city leaders must enact those small measures as well as legislating to take away “ghost guns” can have a cumulative effect to curb the violence.