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DPD Chief James Craig retiring June 1, says he hasn't made decision on possible political run

Posted at 5:30 AM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 15:19:01-04

(WXYZ) — On Monday, Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced he was retiring June 1. Craig stressed during a news conference that he is voluntarily leaving.

The news broke Friday, with reports surfacing that Craig was also considering a run for governor.

During the press conference on Monday, Chief Craig said he is conservative but that he hasn't made a decision yet on a potential run for office in the future.

"I have note made that decision. I'm not ruling it out. There's an appropriate time. I will get past this and then I will come out with a decision," he said.

Related: Who could potentially replace James Craig as new Detroit Police chief

A native Detroiter, Craig, 64, began his career as an officer with the Detroit Police Department, before leaving for the LAPD where he spent 28 years. Before returning to Detroit, Craig spent two years as police chief in Cincinnati.

"The best part of my career has been right here in the city of Detroit," he said at the press conference on Monday.

During an interview on Fox News over the weekend, Craig said there are bigger things in his future, possibly challenging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2022, running as a Republican.

Craig was appointed chief by Detroit's former emergency manager in 2013. Since then, Community Activity Pastor Maurice Hardwick said Craig has often met with community leaders about important issues.

He also launched Project Greenlight, to have DPD personnel monitoring many gas stations and businesses with high-quality video to fight crime, and implemented the use of facial-recognition software, a controversial program he's defended as a powerful tool to help catch suspects.

Reaction from Detroiters and metro Detroiters on his possible gubernatorial run reveal some feel Craig's notoriety would translate to votes.

"I'm surprised that he's going to run for governor. I always thought he was wanted to be the mayor," Adolph Mongo said.

"Yeah I think he would get a lot of support. I feel like right now in the city of Detroit and the work he's doing, he has a lot of support from a lot of local people in the area," Farmington Hills resident Lauren Newson added.

Duggan, a Democrat, is already one of Craig's biggest supporters in the city but made it clear he'll be supporting Whitmer.

"I know for sure, whoever is running, I'll be supporting Gretchen Whitmer," he said.

When Craig retires, the big question is, who will take over and lead the department?

Sources tell us some possibilities include:

Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren spent 21 years with Detroit police and was a deputy chief for the department before becoming the chief in Southfield.

Former Detroit Police Assistant Chief James White could also be interviewed. White took over day-to-day operations while Craig was out with COVID-19 last year. He's now leading the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Detroit Police First Assistant Chief Lashinda Stair. She's the first woman from DPD to ever be appointed the rank of first assistant chief of police.

Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones could also be a contender. He spent 25 years with the department.

Current Assistant Chief Todd Bettison could also be considered. He's been with the department for 25 years.