Battle Creek Police Chief Weighs in on Retiring Detroit Chief Craig
Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced Monday that he's voluntarily stepping down from the position and may run for Michigan Governor against Gretchen Whitmer. This June marks 44 years in law enforcement for Craig, who started and now ends his police career in Detroit.
Battle Creek Police Chief Jim Blocker is a big fan of Craig’s. “I think he's a pretty extraordinary man,” said Chief Blocker. “I have spent some time with him in his office, probably over the last five or six years talking a lot about their state-of-the-art real-time crime center that they have, as well as the Green Light Detroit program. Some of their programs have made national news.”
With so much unrest in many American cities in the past year, many critics of police departments are noticing those whose cities have managed to avoid the rioting, looting, and violence.
“I think he's a good example of a big city chief that really gets down and understands the ground truth and the work that needs to be done,” said Chief Blocker. “The chief has managed to keep the community together and I think he’s developed a strong coalition of community partners. I guess the next big thing for Detroit is is to get someone back in there that understands that vision understands the commitment and understands that Detroit has done a pretty remarkable thing.”
Chief Blocker acknowledges that things haven’t been perfect in Detroit. “They've had challenges internally. They've had challenges externally, but he's dealt with all of them and he's dealt with all of them publicly. He's been upfront, he's been honest and he does the hard things that have to be done when necessary.”
Chief Blocker admits that he, and probably other police chiefs watch the news happening in inner cities closely. “I think we all learn from one another,” said Chief Blocker. “You ask yourself, what could I have done differently? And what did they have to respond with? And how deep or how much depth did they have to respond with? Did they have the community? And I think that's really key. I think it's what's made Chief Craig successful, and I think is a real key for the future chief in Detroit.”
So what does Chief Blocker think of the idea of Chief Craig possibly running as a Republican for the office of Michigan Governor? “I'm not trying to be a proponent for any particular person here. I think in general, chiefs are faced with real-world trauma, and real-world community concerns, right? And they have to work through and resolve them in a way that meets the community demand and not one particular perspective.”
Chief Blocker says a police chief works, not for any particular political party, but rather for everyone. “When you become the chief law enforcement officer, you're everybody's law enforcement officer and oftentimes you have to set aside your personal opinions and perspectives, and where you're lacking that perspective, you have to go out and seek it and learn from it. And I think what that does is it creates a person that understands.”
And Chief Blocker said building coalitions are things that a police chief could bring back to our political spectrum. “There's a lot of pragmatism in terms of how we can approach problems and compromise and consensus aren't bad words. I think that's how America was built. That's how we become strong, and I think we've lost a lot of that along the way. And what a remarkable thing, if we can get more people in there that understand that. Compromise and consensus aren't such bad things after all.”