Detroit Police Chief James Craig seeks community support to fight crime. (Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News)
Detroit Police Chief James Craig spoke with residents Saturday about efforts to make neighborhoods safer and revealed he'd nearly been a victim of crime in the city as well.
"I was almost a victim two weeks ago of carjacking," said Craig to a stunned crowd. "The Chief of Police, I know. Can you believe that? I'm happy I had the presence of mind."
Craig joined WCHB radio host Angelo Henderson Saturday morning at Triumph Church, 2760 East Grand Blvd., for an event, billed as “Chief’s Call to Action.,” where they encouraged residents to join neighborhood patrols, become involved in block clubs and learn other safety strategies.
"In 2012, the FBI recognizes Detroit as one of the most violent cities in America — ranked as No. 2," Craig said. "Should we be excited about that? Is this what we want to call home?”
Henderson, also founder of citizen police organization Detroit 300, recounted stories about the violence against young people, including a 15-year-old boy gunned down on his front porch and 23-year-old shot after heeding a speeding driver and there were kids in the area.
“Come on y’all,” Henderson said. “At some point we gotta care and band together to make a change.”
Craig informed residents of the Neighborhood Police Office program, launching soon , where officers will be designated for sectors and have a focus on an area inside the precincts. He noted there would be a number of sergeants promoted to captain Monday.
All DPD precincts, the Fire Department and community policing groups passed out safety literature and other freebees, including Crime Stopper bumper stickers.
Carla Hill donned her Detroit 300 T-shirt at the event while promoting the Murray Hill-Puritan block club.
"This means so much for Detroit," Hill said. "I'm hoping it can make something good.”
Craig was hired as Detroit’s top cop in May. Since then, he’s re-opened precincts 24 hours and is terminating 12-hour shifts on Oct. 14 for 8-hour days.
A new program to enforce cleanliness at gas station and convenience stores is also in the works because “filth attracts criminal behavior,” said Craig.
"You've had 10, 15 police chiefs in the last five years, " Craig said jokingly. "And they told you beautiful things, but enough of the instability. We have to get this done."