Keith A. Owens | The Michigan Chronicle
On the benefits of an armed citizenry
“Some people were saying ‘Oh my God, you’re telling everybody in Detroit to arm up.’ That’s not true. That’s not even logical or responsible.”
Rather, Craig said he was simply noting the positive effect that “law-abiding, responsible, well-trained law abiding citizens can have on crime.”
According to Craig, “research shows that criminals are more afraid of armed citizens than they are of the police. …So if that’s a fact, if we believe the research, then do we believe that can have an effect on reducing violent crime?
“Over the last three years, we have seen a reduction of street crimes. Yes, great police work. But it’s also no secret that there are a number of law-abiding citizens in Detroit who have obtained a concealed pistol license. I believe that has played a role in some way in reducing the incidents of robbery.”
On police/community relations in Detroit
“I would say that police community relations today, certainly here in the city of Detroit given what is going on across this nation, we are certainly a model. We are a constitutional police department, which is reflective in the Department of Justice’s decision to release us from [U.S. Justice Department] oversight. But when you look at and compare us to other cities that are struggling with their relationships in many areas of the minority community, we’re certainly seeing an improvement.”
“In fact, Minister [Louis] Farrakhan visited here recently – he resides in Chicago, a place where there are 12,000 police officers, 2 million residents, significant challenges in addressing violent crime, and he said to me on his last visit that he believes the Detroit Police Department is a model for what police community relations should look like.”
On officer morale, recruitment efforts and the challenge of retention
“When you look at attrition you have to ask why. One of the first, most notable reasons, it’s no secret that pre-bankruptcy our police officers had 10 percent of their pay taken, which, when you compare us to the market, our police officers are some of the lowest paid in this country. But yet doing probably the most challenging job of any police department in this country.
“There was a revolving door of police chiefs. I mean, in 10 short years we went through maybe eight police chiefs. That certainly created a tremendous instability in leadership. The City of Detroit Police Department was under a consent decree for 13 years, the second-longest-running consent judgment in this country, only exceeded by Oakland, California. Clearly the revolving door of police chiefs had an impact.”
“We’re a more fully functional police department today than we were 2.5 years ago, and we have fewer police officers. We have faster response times, we have a clearance rate that hovers around the national average, 65 percent. We are making key arrests on some of the most violent crimes.”
On whether Detroit officers should reside in Detroit
“While I understand why most in the city would want a Detroit police officer to live in their neighborhood, let me just say that after having spent 28 years in LA, probably 75 percent [of police] or even higher lived outside the city of LA. So the only thing you can hope for is that leadership, the police chief and his executive team, holds a police officer accountable to do the right job, the kind of job that the people of Detroit expect.
“Living in the city – and I know this angers some- really doesn’t make a difference. Now what we have done to compensate for that, one of the things we have done as part of our neighborhood policing program is those police officers who reside in the city of Detroit, we’re in the process of giving them marked, take-home scout cars. One, because they’re neighborhood police officers. Two, they live in the city. The response has been very favorable.”
“The police are the people and the people are the police.”