DPD, community partner for a new Detroit
By Zenobia Jeffries
The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — In the first of a series of community events, Detroit Police Chief James Craig declared, “Today is the beginning of a new Detroit.”
The Call to Action community forum, held Oct. 5 at Triumph Church on the city’s east side, was designed to empower citizens of Detroit with information to make their neighborhoods safer.
The event attracted over 400 residents.
Craig announced the forums are a platform for solutions to crime in Detroit neighborhoods.
“I’m not here for complaints,” the new chief said. “This is not a complaint meeting. It’s a solution-driven meeting.”
Craig shared what he considered to be some of the most offensive problems in the city, including dirty gas stations and liquor stores.
“Filth attracts criminal behavior,” Craig said.
He said he’s visited countless gas stations and liquor stores throughout the city about the uncleanliness of their establishments. Merchants complained about criminal activity, he said.
“Some got angry because I said, ‘Start with keeping your place, clean.’”
As part of his new Neighborhood Police Officers program Craig told residents, police officers will be visibly present at gas stations, liquor stores and schools.
Stores that won’t clean up will not do business in the Detroit, Craig said.
He added that his chiefship will oversee the reinstitution of precincts in neighborhoods.
“No more districts; districts are gone. We’re going to have neighborhood precincts,” the chief said to an overwhelming round of applause.
Residents stood and cheered when the chief announced his intolerance for the lack of response from DPD officers.
“Every officer has to understand, embrace and work closely with the community, if they can’t do that they’re not on this team. And I trust when you call 911 now, you will get an answer. Officers will respond.”
Craig said the precincts are key in community policing partnerships.
“It’s about connecting (residents) with (the police),” he said.
After brief comments Craig opened the floor for residents to offer solutions to specific needs in their neighborhoods.
Some mentioned poor lighting to which Craig responded he’s working with the “lighting czar” to provide well-lit streets and corners.
Craig also responded to criticisms regarding DPD’s use of Stop and Frisk.
“We’re going to stop the right people constitutionally. We’re going to frisk the right people constitutionally. And were going to take them to jail,” Craig said.
Regarding the upcoming mayor’s race and whether his changes will be undone or thwarted by a new mayoral administration, Craig assured residents whoever is the new mayor, his changes in DPD will remain.
“That’s the beauty of the world I live in today, (Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr) has given me a lot of autonomy to drive this out,” Craig said boldly. “I’m not dealing with a lot of red tape.”
For more information and upcoming forums, call the Detroit Police Department’s Office of Public Information at 313.596.2200.