(WCPO DIGITAL) - Ending weeks of speculation, Police Chief James Craig is expected Tuesday to formally accept the top policing job in his hometown of Detroit.
In the interview with WCPO-TV and wearing a Detroit baseball cap, he spoke in past tense, saying: "Together [with the police department], we did wonderful things, we reduced crime, and we started working with our youth community very successfully. I’m just excited we’ve done well. I love the city of Cincinnati.”
Kathy Herrell, FOP president, said Craig called her Monday evening. She didn’t elaborate on their conversation but did say that “she isn’t surprised” because Detroit is home for Craig.
Craig, 56, leaves the department after a little less than two years, and departs as the only external hire and black chief of police in Cincinnati’s history. Craig interviewed for the Detroit position in 2010, before becoming Cincinnati’s 13th chief in August 2011.
By most accounts his tenure in Cincinnati – albeit short – was a success. But it was not without controversy.
When he assumed command, Craig audited the department, and took a top-to-bottom approach to make the department more efficient. Several city council members circulated a petition to try and keep him here when rumors first circulated that he might be interested in a job elsewhere.
Last month, Cincinnati city Councilman Christopher Smitherman along with PG Sittenfeld and Charlie Winburn, all of which are on council’s public safety committee, circulated a motion that Dohoney “immediately consider retaining” Craig “for the great and excellent work he has done.”
Perhaps the most visible change he made was changing the color of the uniform from white to blue and allowing officers to not wear their white hats. But inside the rank and file, his impact was vast. He pushed for electronic record keeping, using statistics to fight crime with brains and not brawn and to begin to change the authoritative top-down culture that once ruled the department.
“He’s in the community physically,” City Councilman Wendell Young said last week, a former police officer. “His officers appear to have a different attitude about themselves and their work. I see a lot more pride in the way they conduct themselves.
“I hear fewer complaints about our police officers.”
The Craig Audit
The Craig audit streamlined the department’s budget and communication among different units. Then police chief of staff, Paul Humphries, now the executive assistant chief, helped administer the audit.
The audit also created a Citizen’s Advisory Board, which Craig meets with on a monthly basis to discuss policy, strategy and police effectiveness, according to the audit’s summary of recommendations.
The audit also established a “downtown” district, or what is now known as the Central Business District, commanded by a captain to accommodate “Cincinnati’s conference and tourist activity as well as the new casino.” Event planning and related units fall under the CBD captain’s command. Currently, Captain Kim Janke serves as the CBD commander.
And perhaps the two biggest changes as a result of the audit affected record keeping and the department’s culture.
The audit points out that many of the records in the homicide unit were maintained in paper form and “the lack of technology available to the Homicide Unit is substantial.” Auditors found that supervision of cases occur through a combination of oral communication and a review of the officer’s log. There was no computer-based software case management. Under Craig’s command, various divisions in the department – perhaps most notably the homicide unit – moved their records to electronic form. Doing so increased efficiency and the management of cases.
For years, the department followed an “absolute and fairly authoritarian” management style, the audit stated. Furthermore, the audit determined the department to be top-heavy. As a result, Craig restructured his command staff and deployed 50 more officers to the patrol unit, adding boots on the ground.
Community Policing Strategies
The establishment of more robust community policing strategies is perhaps the most signature change of Craig’s short tenure. Craig, with City Council’s help,
reinforced the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence. Originally established following the 2001 riots, the program didn’t really get the support it deserved until Craig pushed for it.
“This is not a police thing,” Craig said in August 2011. “This is a community thing. I’ve called on church leaders, educators, professionals in my field to come together and let’s make a difference.”
Craig helped expand the Citizens on Patrol program following his “Call to Action” in Avondale in Spring 2012. The Call came in response to a shooting which left five teens injured. Craig made the call urging community leaders to use their influence to help stop the violence.
While the Citizens on Patrol program had been in Cincinnati since 1997, on June 7, 2012, the Avondale