Craig launches anti-violence campaign: 'Check yourself'

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News
Detroit Chief of Police James Craig

Detroit Police Chief James Craig launched a campaign Friday to help stem the casual, random shootings that plague the city and implored Detroiters to play a role in stopping crime before it erupts.

Even with crime statistics trending downward with 12 fewer homicides this year than last, Craig announced the "Check Yourself, Stop the Violence" campaign with the first day of summer Friday and the Ford Fireworks on Monday, which will have the largest police presence in the city for the premier summer event.

The campaign will involve a ramped-up presence on social media to encourage people to avoid letting arguments turn violent.

"We still see violence that erupts over senseless things," Craig said during a news conference at police headquarters. "We want this to be a safe summer. This message is for everyone. We're not celebrating that we have a reduced number of nonfatal shootings but we're saying the shootings that we are seeing, the vast majority are because of disputes."

Spontaneous violence is hard to deal with, he said. "Many times we can predict, we can prevent, we can educate and stop violence," Craig said. "But when you talk about someone cuts someone off on the freeway, how do you predict that? To stop the violence, you must first check yourself. Your friends should check you."

In one incident this week at Seven Mile and Greenfield, a 40-year-old man was shot by two 61-year-old twins after a dispute at a Coney Island over fried mushrooms. Both men, who have lengthy criminal histories, are in custody, he said, but it didn't have to happen.

"So for no apparent reason, they return to the location and shoot and critically injure the victim," Craig said. "You just can't understand. When we look at our homicide picture this year and while we are reporting a decline, we know that 31 percent of our homicides are caused by a simple argument."

The problem of random violence isn't just in Detroit, Craig said, pointing out episodes in places like Virginia, where a man shot and killed his daughter's boyfriend last month over an argument over which car was better.

Craig said many variables play a role in violence and issues like mental illness, alcohol or drug use, or being easily offended can fuel rage.

"We anticipate a safe fireworks event," he said. "But don't bring your attitude to the event. It's family friendly and we're just not going to tolerate it. Check yourself, stop the violence."

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