Detroit police chief announces retirement, doesn’t rule out ’22 gubernatorial bid

    Detroit Police Chief James Craig | Screenshot

    James Craig, the longest-serving Detroit Police Department chief in 30 years, has announced his retirement as of June 1 from Michigan’s largest force at 2,200 members. He made the statement during a Monday news conference alongside Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

    When asked whether he would vie for Michigan governor in 2022, as some news reports have suggested, Craig said that he is “evaluating his options” and has not “made any decisions” about his future. 

    Craig, who has made several interview appearances on the conservative Fox News Channel in the last year, said that he is a Republican and has been one for about 10 years. 

    Duggan, a Democrat, said that Craig “brought professionalism” to the position and that he asked him to stay. He also stated that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a fellow Democrat, “has been the best supporter that the city of Detroit has had in the governor’s office in decades and I will be supporting her.”  

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    Craig has served as Detroit police chief since 2013 after being selected by Kevyn Orr, an emergency manager appointed by GOP former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Craig previously served as police chief for the Cincinnati Police Department and the Portland Police Department in Maine. 

    A native Detroiter, Craig started a police career in his hometown as an officer at age 19 in 1977 and later worked for Los Angeles Police Department for 28 years. The last Detroit police chief to have served longer than Craig was William Hart, the city’s first Black person to serve in the post. His tenure was between 1976 and 1991.

    Republicans have been hunting for a top-tier candidate to challenge Whitmer, who is in her first term. Some Republicans who have been mentioned have been Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and former House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering.)

    If Craig does announce a gubernatorial bid, he will join four GOP candidates who have filed statements of organization with the Michigan Secretary of State. 

    They include Austin Chenge, a Grand Rapids U.S. Army veteran who said Whitmer has the characteristics of “a dictator,” referring to her COVID-19 directives; Ryan Kelley, an Ottawa County real estate agent who allegedly attended the Jan. 6 right-wing insurrection on Capitol Hill; Ralph Rebandt, pastor of Oakland County Hills Community Church, an Orthodox Presbyterian congregation; and Bob Scott, a Livingston County evangelist and substitute teacher. 

    A fifth candidate, Garrett Soldano, who has served as co-chair of the Unlock Michigan campaign, has recently announced an intention to run. He, too, would run as a Republican. 

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.