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Detroit’s New Police Chief Introduced, Mayor Says He Faces ‘Hellacious’ Job

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James Craig addresses the media. File Photo. (credit: George Fox/CBSDetroit, File)

James Craig addresses the media. File Photo. (credit: George Fox/CBSDetroit, File)

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By Christy Strawser

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) The day after Mayor Dave Bing announced he’s opting out of the mayor’s race, another key piece of Detroit leadership changed — the new police chief came on board.

“This is another one of those important days in the history of our city,” Bing said as he introduced James Craig, currently the Cincinnati police chief, at his first public appearance Wednesday. Craig’s resignation in Cincinnati will take effect June 22, but said he’s already started working on “big issues” in Detroit.

Bing urged the community to embrace the new chief, but not overwhelm him, saying he has a “hellacious’ job in front of him.

Craig said he will focus on reducing the violent crime in the Motor City, raising employee morale and improving the department’s credibility. “I’ve come home,” he said at the press conference, adding Detroit used to be a cutting-edge department known for its aggressive community policing effort — and it will be again.

Craig promised “quick changes” in the department, but said he wants to understand the organization before starting any restructuring. The new chief is considered at at-will employee and his only contract right now is verbal. “I want to roll up my sleeves and get work done,” Craig said, adding he plans to start holding meetings with community members.

He said he’s looking forward to restoring Detroit’s reputation as one of the top police departments in the country.

“We, police, can’t do it alone,” Craig said, adding, “We need true partners.”

Cincinnati officers had terrible morale when he started there, Craig said, but promised “morale will go through the roof” in Detroit alongside his changes. “I want to be sure the cop who comes to your door is a happy cop, that translates into good service,” Craig said.

Earlier, he said: “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.”

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.

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 is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and holds master’s degree in management and public administration.

He will officially take over the reins at the Detroit Police Department on July 1.

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