Police chief: Bing wrong about city residents’ unease
Detroit — The city’s police chief is taking aim at former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s claims that the city is lacking leadership and on the brink of unrest.
James Craig on Thursday defended the police department’s strides in mending a “fractured” relationship with the community since he took over the department 21/2 years ago.
“We have done so much. It’s a slap in the face of every Detroit police officer to say we are one step away (from unrest). He has no idea what we do behind the scenes every day in fostering great relations,” Craig told The Detroit News.
Bing on Wednesday spoke at the Detroit Policy Conference about frustration over a void in leadership opportunities for African-Americans in the city and his belief the city is “maybe one incident away” from an uprising like those seen in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore or Chicago.
Bing also noted an “undercurrent of frustration” and anger from African-Americans who feel excluded from the city’s resurgence.
He could not be immediately reached for comment late Thursday.
“I live in the city of Detroit. I work in the city of Detroit,” Craig said. “I’m pretty confident I have my hand on the pulse of Detroit from a public safety perspective.”
The former mayor pointed to the 1967 riot and impact it had on the city. He said he worries now that if the city were to face another uprising, it’s lacking the strong political and community leaders — such as former Mayor Coleman Young, Councilwoman Erma Henderson and leader Horace Sheffield Jr. — it once had to help galvanize the city.
“If something crazy happens I don’t know who we have from a leadership standpoint that we can call upon to control some of that activity,” Bing told reporters Wednesday.
Craig said Bing is “obviously out of touch.” Detroit Police and the Duggan administration are focused on creating safer communities and building bridges.
The chief pointed to the city’s new Project Green Light partnership in which gas stations equip their facilities with indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras, visible lights and signage and link with the police department’s Real Time Crime Center.
Bing said he spent several months meeting with African-American businesses, students and others in the community and there’s a lot of frustration and anger over being excluded.
The ex-mayor pointed to the Ilitch family and Dan Gilbert, saying they are responsible for much of the redevelopment in the city, and more involvement from African-Americans is needed to keep that momentum going.
Businesses, Bing said, aren’t springing up in the city’s main corridors — Woodward, Grand River, Gratiot and Michigan — where a lot of the people live.
Bing — a former Piston and businessman whose former Detroit auto supply business once employed 1,100 workers — shared his view the day after Mayor Mike Duggan delivered his third State of the City address on the city’s east side sharing a message of opportunity.
Boysie Jackson, the city’s chief procurement officer, who held the post under the Bing and Duggan administrations said Wednesday the city’s involvement with minority companies is much improved, as is its alliance with the chamber of commerce.
“Our minority companies and Detroit-based businesses between that period of time and now is like night and day,” Jackson said.