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‘Hollywood Craig’ featured in NRA publication

A1F photo featuring Detroit Police Chief James Craig COURTESY IMAGE

A1F photo featuring Detroit Police Chief James Craig COURTESY IMAGE

Detroit chief of police featured for encouraging residents to arm themselves

By Zenobia Jeffries
The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Detroit Police Chief James Craig is making national news, again. This time for his profile in a National Rifle Association publication, America’s 1st Freedom.

Craig’s stance on citizens arming and defending themselves, when faced with violence, has attracted the attention of the gun rights organization.

In the article, “A show of courage in Detroit” the motor city chief says Detroit has a “culture of violence.” In local, and other media reports, Chief Craig has often repeated this sentiment.

“It wasn’t always uncommon suspects would be wearing body armor during the commission of a crime… I found it odd, having worked in other large cities where I didn’t see it, not at this level of frequency,” Craig told A1F.

Craig said the number of concealed pistol license holders in the city are indicative of “good Americans, good Detroiters (who) were fed up with being victims.”

Craig said he didn’t think his comments encouraging residents to use guns to protect themselves would create such controversy because bearing arms is “a Second Amendment-protected right.”

Ron Scott, Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality, said the issue of violence in Detroit is not a Second Amendment issue but a public safety and community issue. He says Craig’s stance in the NRA publication is “political posturing.”

“In a time when the citizens of Detroit are trying to find their way out of the current cycle of violence, this is not the time for the department to use the chief’s public persona to unify with the political posture of the National Rifle Association. This is a public safety and community issue, not simply a Second Amendment issue,” he wrote in a statement. “This media promotion raises questions about the oath of office; after all, the NRA arguably has a wider political agenda, which in many ways is antithetical to the cessation of violence.”

Scott says law enforcement officials need to find ways to de-escalate violence spawned by “Stand Your Ground,” a law partially drafted by an NRA official in Florida. About 26 U.S. states, including Michigan, have some form of SYG, in which citizen’s use of force — even lethal — is justifiable if they feel their or someone else’s life is in imminent danger.

SYG was criticized following the death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin whose killer was allowed to go free when a jury found him not guilty of murder. George Zimmerman, Martin’s killer, used the SYG law as his defense.

At a May 19 press conference in Detroit, Craig responded to the NRA feature. He said he doesn’t advocate violence, but believes citizens must protect themselves.

“I’m not an advocate for violence, but when faced with a situation, one that is an imminent threat to life (or great bodily harm), one (must) protect themselves,” he said. “(A) person who is a law abiding citizen (with) a CPL or CCW (is) not going to tell a suspect … ‘stop for a moment, I need to dial 9-1-1, so I can get a police officer here.’ They’re dealing with an imminent threat to life.”

According to DPD, the unofficial number of justifiable homicides, so far this year, totals 13. There were 11 last year.

Craig, who reports directly to Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, made national news last fall when he announced he’d almost become a victim of a carjacking. Craig said carjackers approached him in his police car and he accelerated out of harm’s way when he saw “the suspect running to my car.”

It was later learned Craig could not have arrested the suspects 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.

Craig was also not certified in Cincinnati, where he was chief before coming to Detroit in 2013. He sued the city to avoid certification.

In February, Craig had the FBI look into what he believed was a threat on his life made on the Internet.

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