Craig: Detroit cops in ‘heightened state’ of alert

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit police Chief James Craig on Sunday renewed his order for officers to be in a “heightened state” of alert in the wake of the fatal shootings of three police officers in Baton Rouge and urged a toning down of anti-police rhetoric.

“Another dark day in policing,” Craig said. “First and foremost an attack on police officers anywhere is an attack on all of us. We are certainly in a heightened state, and we put that information out to our officers. We’re asking all of our officers to be extra vigilant and to be aware of their surrounding.”

Craig issued a similar warning to officers last week after the Dallas shooting in which a sniper killed four officers.

Craig stopped by some of the city’s police precincts Sunday. He described the mood of the officers as somber.

“This is a dark day for our profession, but also for our country,” Craig said at an afternoon news conference at the 12th Precinct on West Seven Mile. Craig said he visited officers at the 5th and 9th precincts.

The recent rise in anti-police language is empowering some people to engage in violence against officers, Craig said.

“I’m thankful most Detroiters have shown support to this department,” the chief said. “But there are a few who still espouse this anti-police rhetoric and even threaten.”

Phrases, he said, like “death to police” or “pigs in a blanket” contribute to a climate that put a target on police officers’ backs. He decried such talk as “hate speech” and encouraged people not to paint an entire profession with a broad brush.

Craig said “we cross that line” into possible illegal behavior “when we get into threats.”

Craig said that the type of threats allegedly made against Detroit officers last week on Facebook, which resulted in four men being arrested, “will not be tolerated.”

Prosecutors are reviewing warrant requests against the four men on charges of using the internet to threaten.

“One thing you cannot have is people making threats against officers’ lives,” Craig said. “I can’t believe this is only happening in Detroit. I’m calling on my fellow chiefs around the country to take a stand.”

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts appeared to answer Craig’s call late Sunday with a Facebook post announcing partnered patrols in the wake of recent police shootings.

“In light of the recent events involving police officers in Baton Rogue, I have agreed to have only two man patrols instead of one until things calm down,” Fouts said in the post. “The safety of Warren Police officers must be the top priority. This will be the way we patrol until the foreseeable future.”

Recent threats to police departments across the country ranged from generic promises of violence to specific video threats. In Dallas, officers swarmed Police Department headquarters July 9 after a report of a suspicious person in a garage before finally issuing an all-clear.

A Louisiana man was accused of posting a video online showing him in his vehicle behind a police car, saying he wanted to shoot and kill an officer. Police say Kemonte Gilmore flashed a handgun in the video and talked about the slayings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.

In Wisconsin, a man posted calls on social media for black men to gun down white officers, and a woman in Illinois threatened in an online video to shoot and kill any officer who pulled her over, police said.