Chief James Craig has dedicated his life to service, spending more than four decades in law enforcement, leaving the cities he served safer than he found them. His story starts in Detroit, Michigan, the city where he was born and raised. His father, a veteran of the United States Army, was a bus driver and reserve police officer. His mother was a poll worker. They instilled in him different values – his father the value of hard work and a sense of duty to the community and his mother the importance of democracy and the change-making power of the vote.
James Craig, LAPD Graduation, January 1981
Craig’s first job after graduating from Cass Technical High School was as a line worker at the Lynch Road Chrysler plant assembling automobiles, a job that sparked a love of automobiles that continues to this day. Although he enjoyed the work, Craig was drawn to a different calling in law enforcement. His father, a reserve police officer, encouraged his son to capitalize on the opportunity to make a difference in the community as a law enforcement officer, an opportunity he himself was denied due to racially discriminatory hiring practices. His first job in law enforcement was as a police officer for the Detroit Police Department, (DPD) where he stayed for four years until being laid off due to the budget cuts and the impending bankruptcy of the city of Detroit.
After leaving the DPD, Craig moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as an officer for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), rising through the ranks, ultimately attaining the rank of Captain. During his tenure at the LAPD, Craig was responsible for overseeing 476 officers and was assigned to many of the most violent areas in Los Angeles, achieving tremendous reductions in crime through the implementation of innovative strategies and by building strong community partnerships.
Craig’s experience in Los Angeles helped shape his political identity. While president of an African American police association, he was exposed to the divisive rhetoric of Democratic politicians – rhetoric that continues to consume the Democratic party to this day. His conservative political identity became firmly established following his appointment as Chief of Police in the city of Portland, Maine. In that post, Craig was responsible for approving concealed-carry permits, fully subscribing to the notion that an armed, law-abiding populace is the best deterrent for crime. After two years in Portland, he was recruited by Cincinnati to be the Chief of Police for the Cincinnati Police Department, leading a department of more than 1500 sworn and civilian personnel.
In 2013, Craig was asked by Governor Rick Snyder to serve as the 42nd Chief of Police for the City of Detroit, his hometown. Over the next eight years, Craig led a department of 2800 sworn and civilian personnel and achieved great success, propelling the DPD into the 21st century. Accomplishments as the Chief of Police in Detroit include a significant reduction in violent crime rates through the utilization of data and analysis to support proactive policing, quicker response times for priority 911 calls, and the institution of programs to cut gang membership in at-risk communities. Craig received widespread acclaim for his leadership during the unrest in the summer of 2020. While other cities were marred by looting, riots, and destruction, Detroit stood strong, a model for other cities to strive to.
While law and order reaches a crisis point in our country, no one in the United States Senate boasts a law enforcement background. At this critical juncture, it’s clear that the great state of Michigan and our country needs a voice in the Senate who can speak truth to power on the issues that matter most to Americans – Chief James Craig will be that voice.
Chief James Craig, Detroit Police Chief