Detroit Police Chief James Craig retires

James White named as interim chief

By: Brendan Losinski | Metro | Published May 20, 2021

 James Craig

James Craig

 James White

James White

DETROIT — On May 10, Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced his plans to retire from the Detroit Police Department as of June 1. Former Assistant Chief James White was named interim chief by Mayor Mike Duggan May 17.

“The level of talent within DPD, and that has come through DPD, is extraordinary and each of the individuals I met with are deeply respected and would make outstanding interim chiefs,” Duggan said on the city’s website.  “However, James White has the depth and breadth of experience that I feel have prepared him to lead this department forward. He has my full support as well as the full support of every member of City Council and Board of Police Commissioners.”

Craig was appointed as Detroit Police Chief in 2013. Born in Detroit, he served in the Detroit Police Department from 1977 to 1981. Afterward, he was a member of the Los Angeles Police Department from 1981 to 2009, chief of the Portland Police Department from 2009 to 2011, and chief of the Cincinnati Police Department from 2011 to 2013 before returning to Detroit as chief.

“Today I announce that I will be retiring on June 1,” Craig said at a press conference on May 10. “I am voluntarily leaving. We saw what happened to many chiefs across this country; some were forced out, some retired because they didn’t feel supported, and some were fired. I’m leaving in a good place. I love this city and I love this state.”

Although he spent most of his career in other cities, he stressed that Detroit has always been home for him.

“June marks 44 years as a public servant in this profession,” he said at the same press conference. “It has been a phenomenal journey. As I always say, the best part of my career has been right here in the city of Detroit.

Craig said he is looking back on his time in the department with fondness.

“I’m blessed and fortunate that in 44 years I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad day,” he stated. “I might have had a day where I’m a little frustrated, particularly some days last year, but at the end of the day, I enjoy getting up in the morning. I love the work and am passionate about the work, and I’m going to miss it.”

White, a fellow native Detroiter, has most recently been serving as the executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, an arm of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, and as a member of the cabinet of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. He was a member of the Detroit Police Department from 1996 to 2020.

“Having grown up in the City of Detroit and in the Detroit Police Department, I am deeply honored and humbled to have been appointed as Interim Chief of Police for the great city of Detroit,” White said in a press release on the city’s website. “I am returning to the Detroit Police Department after having spent the last 8 months serving the citizens of this state as Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, a position that has allowed me to work with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission on initiatives such as Equity in Education and Equity in Minority and Women-owned Businesses.”

He stressed that equality and transparency will be focal points of his tenure leading the department.

“While I am leaving the Department of Civil Rights, my commitment to civil rights integrity, transparency, equity and inclusion remains firm. These concepts will serve as guiding principles and help drive every crime-fighting strategy going forward,” White said in the same statement. “In the coming weeks, I will be assembling a team of tenured officers and executives to help with the transition. I look forward to working with the mayor, city and community leaders, the Board of Police Commissioners, and the men and women of this great department in reducing crime while at the same time inspiring community support and confidence.”

Several Michigan and Detroit civic leaders have voiced their support for White’s selection.

“I have worked with James White through the years. He is extremely intelligent, competent, and measured. He accepts responsibility and is not quick to blame,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a press release. “In his dealings with me he has been even tempered and is simply about getting the work done — he is not a glory seeker. I look forward to witnessing how he runs the department. My favorite trait about now Chief White — he can cut to the chase like no other and gets straight to the relevant point quickly and efficiently during meetings, discussions, and phone calls.”

The Detroit City Charter states that the next step in finding a new permanent chief of police will be for the Board of Police Commissioners to conduct a search and generate a list of candidates. From that list, the mayor will conduct interviews and make his selection. The chief of police will then have to be confirmed by a majority vote of the Detroit City Council. Duggan said he expects the new chief to be selected and confirmed within the next 90 days. White has officially stated that he intends to be a candidate to become the city’s permanent chief.