When he first arrived in Detroit in 2011, Detroit Police Chief James Craig lamented that “carjacking is almost like a way of life around here.”
On Monday, he told a crowd at an anti-carjacking meeting that he could sympathize with carjacking victims because he had recently almost become one himself.
“There are certain cars each suspect tends to,” he said. “And I guess they liked my police car — a police car with lights. And one suspect jumped out and began running toward the passenger side of my vehicle. As soon as I saw the suspect running to my car, I accelerated out of harm’s way.”
“And then, candidly, I got angry. I said, ‘I can’t believe this just almost happened.'”
Neither could those in the crowd. As Greg Bowens told WWJ-TV, Craig “related a story about almost being carjacked and he sped away. And so the thought was that ‘Wow, the chief of police is running from crime in Detroit? Aren’t these the people that run to crime?'”
“Circle back around, call for help, pull out a gun, arrest the guy. Do something,” he said.
When contacted by WWJ-TV, Detroit police spokesperson Sgt. Michael Woody said that his chief had done all he could, as the suspects had merely approached his car.
Craig later explained that he couldn’t have arrested the suspects anyway, because he’s not a certified police officer in Detroit. The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards does not require police administrators to be certified, but it did send Craig the certification paperwork in July. It has not been returned.
Craig faced similar criticism when he became the Cincinnati police chief, as he was the first ever chief hired from outside the state. He sued the city to avoid having to be certified, claiming that the test — based on Ohio law — was unfair to out-of-state candidates. He thought his time would be better spent learning the community then studying for a test given to recruits after 582 hours of training.
Another Detroit police spokesperson, Kelly Miner, said that Craig does intend to become certified in Michigan.
[Image via Joe Wessels on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed]