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Detroit’s New Police Chief On The Job: ‘Change Is Coming’

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James Craig (Credit: cincinnati-oh.gov)

James Craig (Credit: cincinnati-oh.gov)

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DETROIT (WWJ) It’s July 1st, and the first day on the job for Detroit’s new Police Chief James Craig.

“Change is coming and that change means a lot of things, whether it’s morale, the way we police the city,’ Craig said. “There is a way to police the city and I don’t mean going in and you blanket a neighborhood that’s high in crime and you stop everything that’s moving, that’s not how you get the job done.”

What’s his first order of business? Craig says officer morale is one of his top priorities.  He says the crime rate can’t go down until morale goes up.

“It needs to be changed and some people need to be moved,” Craig said. “I want to make sure the right people are sitting in the right seats in the organization and I may not know that right away because I’m coming in, I don’t know anybody — so that work is continuing as we speak.”

Craig started his nearly 40-year police career in Detroit at the age of 19. He says raising officer morale is one of his top priorities. The new top cop in Detroit was a cop in Los Angeles and the chief in Portland Maine and Cincinnati before being hired here.

He’s being paid $225,000 a year, which raised eyebrows in some quarters. Budget-beleaguered Detroit is under the control of an emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, charged with getting a grip on escalating deficit, badly managed departments and poor city services. Many believe bankruptcy is still on the table for Detroit.

“It’s more than we’re accustomed to paying, we’ll have to see how it works out,” the Free Press’ Stephen Henderson told Thomas, adding he wished part of Craig’s pay was tied to performance.

In introducing his choice for police chief in May, Mayor Dave Bing acknowledged Craig faces a “hellacious” job, with many saying he has to handle a department rife with officer strife, budget problems, high crime and recurring scandals.  Bing announced Craig would step into the chief’s role just a day after the mayor himself said he was opting out of running for his seat again.

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