DETROIT — Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced his retirement on May 10, and while many reports speculated on his candidacy for governor, he has not yet confirmed his interest.
Craig, 64, has been chief since being appointed in July 2013 by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. When Craig took over the department, it had been under a federal consent decree since 2003 and had been riddled with scandals. The decree was lifted in August 2014.
Before coming back to Detroit, Craig had served as chief of the Cincinnati and Portland, Maine police departments and also served for decades as a police officer in Los Angeles after being laid off by the Detroit police department in 1981.
Craig, a Republican, has said that police officers should be held “accountable for violating their oath and breaking the law”, but has also been an outspoken defender of law enforcement, including calling for Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s resignation after she tweeted that “policing in our country is inherently and intentionally racist” and that there should be “no more policing.”
Craig had appeared on CNN shortly after and said that her comments were “reckless and disgusting.”
Many sources have reported that Craig has spent recent days meeting with GOP leaders, including Ron Weiser, the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, who made headlines when he referred to the state’s Democratic women leaders as “witches” in April.
Republicans have been seeking out a viable challenger to Whitmer in the 2022 election and senior Republicans contend that Craig could make a strong candidate because he could potentially win support in Wayne County, which regularly gives Democratic candidates large margins of victory. Whitmer received more than 70 percent of the vote in Wayne County in 2018.
While Craig didn’t announce a run for governor, he did say during his speech that he wants to continue to serve.
“I’m leaving in a good place,” he said. “I love this city and I love this state… The best part of my career has been right here in the city of Detroit… I am deeply passionate for public service, not just public service but in the leadership role.”
Craig also said that obstacles beyond his control in the prosecution process are part of the problem as to why crime rates are still high and that the last year was the most difficult of his extensive career.
“I’m all for some kind of reform when it comes to bail, but let’s use some common sense of judgment,” he said. “Some people are sociopaths, some people are violent… Our profession, nationally, is in crisis. I’ve coined the phrase: Cops count, leadership matters. The vast majority do it right, and let’s face it, the aggression against our police officers is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed.”