DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced Monday that former Detroit Police Assistant Chief James White will serve as interim police chief, replacing James Craig after his retirement on June 1.
Duggan says he selected White because he "kept coming back" to what happened last year when COVID-19 was ravaging the Detroit Police Department. White stepped up and ran the department when Chief Craig contracted the coronavirus.
“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,” said Mayor Duggan. “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.”
Following Craig's recovery, White left the DPD to head up the Michigan Department of Civil Rights under Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Duggan says he made the decision to appoint White as interim chief in concert with the board of police commissioners.
Following Craig's retirement, the mayor's office said the board of police commissioners will conduct a search to identify a list of candidates for Craig's permanent replacement. Duggan says White will compete in the process along with all other candidates developed by the commissioners.
The permanent replacement must also be confirmed by Detroit City Council.
White is a 24-year veteran of the DPD who was born and raised in Detroit. He served in leadership positions throughout his career, including Assistant Chief beginning in 2012 until he left the department in August 2020. Duggan says he was instrumental in getting the DPD released from a two-decade-long federal consent decree.
“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. “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.”
“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 added.
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.
Craig was appointed chief by Detroit's former emergency manager in 2013.
Some possibilities for his permanent replacement 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.
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 was considered to be a candidate. She's the first woman from DPD to ever be appointed the rank of first assistant chief of police. However, she announced her retirement over the weekend.
Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones could also be a contender. He spent 25 years with the department.
Current Deputy Chief Todd Bettison could also be considered. He's been with the department for 25 years.