James Craig was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. His father, a veteran of the United States Army, served as a reserve police officer at the time of the 1967 Detroit riot, which left a lasting impression on a young James Craig.
Craig graduated from Cass Technical High School and joined the Detroit Police Department in 1977, where he was assigned to the 10th Precinct. After being laid off in 1981 due to budget constraints, he moved to Los Angeles where he joined the LAPD.
During his tenure as a command officer of the LAPD, Craig was responsible for overseeing many of the most violent areas in Los Angeles and was able to achieve tremendous reductions in crime through the implementation of innovative strategy and by building strong community partnerships.
His experience as the president of an African American police association exposed Craig to vitriolic and extreme elements of the Democratic Party and kick-started what had already been a political awakening for the young police officer.
His transition in becoming a Republican hastened in 2009 after his appointment as Chief of Police in the City of Portland, Maine. In Portland, the police chief had the responsibility to approve concealed pistol licenses. Often urban police chiefs favor gun control, however, this experience helped him to understand that law abiding citizens with concealed weapons permits can be one of the biggest deterrents for crime.
After two years in Portland, Craig was recruited by Cincinnati officials to serve as Chief of Police for the Cincinnati Police Department. Chief Craig was the first African American and first person from outside of Cincinnati to hold the position of Chief of Police. During his tenure as Cincinnati police chief, he was responsible for leading a department of 1,500 sworn and civilian personnel.
In 2013, Chief Craig was asked by Governor Rick Snyder to serve as the 42nd Chief of Police to the City of Detroit, his hometown. Over the next eight years, Chief Craig led a department of 2,800 sworn and civilian personnel and achieved great success with propelling the Detroit Police Department into 21st century policing standards.
One critical accomplishment came in 2014, when the police department reached compliance from mandated federal consent judgments. Judgements, which were agreed to in 2003 after a Department of Justice investigation, found a pattern of excessive force, civil rights abuses, and a culture of covering up misconduct.
Confidence in the Department continued to increase among the city’s residents and business owners, in part, due to the establishment of community policing initiatives including Neighborhood Police Officers to focus on quality-of-life issues and Children in Trauma Intervention (CITI) Camp to offer police mentorship to at-risk youth.
One component for Detroit’s success in reducing levels of violent crime was the increased use of data and analysis to support proactive policing through the Detroit Police Department (DPD) Real Time Crime Center, Community CompStat, Ceasefire Detroit, and Project Green Light Detroit programs. Craig is credited with reducing response times for priority one 911 calls. He has also initiated programs to cut gang membership and authorized large-scale sweeps aimed at protecting Detroit neighborhoods most impacted by crime.
During his tenure, Craig built strong ties between the department and community leaders. He is widely recognized for his leadership during the unrest of Summer 2020, as other cities around the country experienced looting, fires, and riots.
After 8 years as Chief of Police in his hometown of Detroit and 44 years as a dedicated public servant, Craig retired in June 2021.
James Craig is running for Governor of Michigan with a commitment to fix leadership in state government and institute an effective administration that fosters a collaborative environment to drive the vibrancy of the state’s economy and communities.