DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Detroit has chosen a new police chief.
Cincinnati police chief James Craig on Tuesday announced that he will be leaving his position to take over the Detroit Police Department. His resignation will take effect on June 22.
“I did accept the job with the city of Detroit as its next police chief. I’m very excited,” he said.
Craig said one of the main things he will now be focused on is reducing the violent crime in the Motor City.
“When I look at the city of Detroit, I’m biased. It’s home, it’s a great city, and yes it’s had its challenges, that’s no secret,” he said. “The level of violence in Detroit, I know that we will turn that around. This is not something that I think, this is something that I know.”
Other things that Craig wants to work on are raising morale among officers and improving the credibility of the Detroit Police Department.
“It’s no secret that the morale inside of the police department is at an all time low,” he said. “How can we serve a community if we don’t have happy police officers?”
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory said the entire city is going to miss Craig.
“You increased morale, you reduced crime, you have the confidence of this mayor, the confidence of the city manager, the confidence of the city council, you have the confidence of the command staff, the rank and file, the leadership of the union, the membership of the union and the confidence of the community. How and the hell did you do that,” Mallory said with a laugh.
“That’s impressive. And it is for those reasons that I believe you have been selected to be the next chief of police in the city of Detroit,” he continued.
Mallory said Craig will be a “great leader” in Detroit because of his ability to look at the bigger picture.
“He is committed to the cause of reducing crime, but he also understands that the police department plays a critical role in how a city develops, how a city sees itself,” Mallory said. “I know that you are going to serve with distinction in Detroit the same way you have served with distinction in Cincinnati.”
A day before making the announcement, Craig indicated he might be taking the position, saying he would be excited to return to the force in his hometown of Detroit.
“With the possibility of going home and serving them as well as that city, it’s awesome. I mean, you can’t put it in words,” Craig told WLWT-TV.
Craig was one of five finalists named for the position by the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners. He got his start in police work in Detroit in 1977. After being laid off, he was hired by LAPD, where he worked his way up the ranks to captain before retiring in 2009. He then became the chief in Portland, Maine, before accepting the same position in Cincinnati in 2011.
Craig said he had tried to reflect more contemporary policing practices by making changes to the traditionally more rigid police culture, including by maintaining an open-door policy for his roughly 1,000 Cincinnati officers and easing rules about officers’ attire and work schedules.
Craig is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and holds master’s degree in management and public administration.
Rumors of Craig’s appointment swirled for days before the official announcement was made. A tweet by Cincinnati councilman Chris Seelbach confirmed the news Monday night:
In a Facebook posting, former Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said Craig is an excellent choice for the city and that the department is in “good hands.” He called Craig “professional” and “well respected among his peers nationally.”
Current Detroit Police Chief Chester Logan has been filling the position since Godbee retired amid a sex scandal. Logan has said he will retire once a permanent chief is chosen.
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