The Seattle City Council hosted the first public hearing to confirm Carmen Best as Seattle’s next police chief Wednesday morning.
Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez, who chairs the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education Committee, will oversee Best's confirmation.
Best appeared before a friendly audience. Everyone who testified on the topic of her confirmation voiced their support for the interim chief.
"I don't know anyone who has a more stellar record and who is more respected in this community," said Louise Chernin, president of the Greater Seattle Business Association.
"it is not about affection and it's not about perfection," said Lisa Dauguaard, of the Public Defenders' Association. "It's about skill, expertise, and a very unique blend of assets that Chief Best brings to bear on an extraordinarily tough job."
The council ask Best about her vision and priorities for the department. She talked about improving recruitment, negotiating a contract with the officers' union, and continuing with reform efforts.
This week, the interim chief fired two officers for shooting at a fleeing vehicle in Seattle's Eastlake neighborhood last fall. She insists her decision had nothing to do with wanting to prove an insider could be tough on discipline.
"I would not make a decision like that on politics or any other reason. I only make decisions based on what is right," she said.
And as for any critics of the department's lip sync challenge video released Wednesday, Best pointed out the officers volunteered their time to engage with the community.
"It was a fun event and I'm not going to let a naysayer drag us down," she responded.
In a lighter moment, Best demonstrated she knows firsthand how important community support is.
"I've been in a patrol car," she told council members. "It feels a lot better to drive down the street with all five fingers and smile then it feels to have something else happen."
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan nominated Best for the full-time position on July 17.
Best is a 26-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department and the first African-American woman to lead the department.
The Council could vote on a final decision as early as August 13.
Public hearings will also be held on:
Wednesday, August 1, 6 p.m.
Special Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education Committee meeting – public hearing
Wednesday, August 8, 9:30 a.m. (possible committee vote on appointment)
Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education Committee meeting
Monday, August 13, 2 p.m. (Full Council final action on appointment)
City Council Meeting
Tuesday, September 4, 2 p.m. (Alternative full Council final action on appointment)
City Council Meeting