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Carolyn Clifford goes 1-on-1 with former DPD Chief Craig, talks retirement, possible future in politics

Posted at 6:47 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 20:50:33-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — When the former Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced he was retiring there was a lot of buzz about what he would do next. During his eight-year stint, he's been bold, outspoken and never afraid to take on an issue no matter how controversial.

Well, now the question is: will the former chief take his leadership skills into the world of politics?

Whether it be crime, the media, the courts or any other hot button issue, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig has never been shy about speaking his mind both locally or nationally.

7 Action News' Carolyn Clifford caught up with the 44-year veteran lawman on the city's east side in the chair of his long-time barber DeAngelo Smith at Executive Cuts.

Whether or not Craig will take the plunge into politics and run for governor of Michigan has been the talk of the town.

Clifford: You just announced your retirement but politics, why now?

Craig: First of all, I didn't say I was going to go into politics. Possibly, certainly, I'm evaluating my options. It's no secret members of the GOP local and state have reached out.

When Craig returned to his hometown eight years ago after being chief in two other cities, many thought Detroit was in trouble. The Kwame Kilpatrick saga was coming to a close and crime was through the roof.

"We just can't say Kwame single-handedly destroyed the city," Craig said. "I think the woes to our city started long before Kwame Kilpatrick."

Craig's highlight reel includes introducing neighborhood policing, Project Greenlight, decreasing carjackings and getting guns off our streets with 70-to-100 concealed weapons arrests a week.

"Let's not forget about our courts and some of the decisions that are being made today," he added. "I'm talking about bail reform. I'm talking about compassionate release."

Craig says reform is one thing but returning violent criminals to our streets more emboldened and making comments to officers like, "I'll be out of jail before you get off your shift" is another.

Craig says anti-police rhetoric began to rise at a fever pitch after the death of George Floyd but unlike many other cities, Detroit did not burn.

"In those times, when our police officers came under attack, the mayor certainly did not micromanage me during that process," Craig said. "He certainly supported the decisions that I made."

Since then the phone has been ringing off the hook.

"Not only have I been getting calls from here in Michigan but other cities I've worked, they want me to pursue a position in government," Craig said. "They want me to do it."

Craig says it's not just Republicans courting him but Democrats, too.

"What people want today is one thing," he said. "They want bold leadership; leaders that are ethical and that are transparent."

Watch former DPD Chief Craig's full one-on-one interview with 7 Action News' Carolyn Clifford in the video player above.