City Council confirms James White as Detroit's 43rd police chief

The Detroit News

Detroit — City Council on Tuesday unanimously confirmed the appointment of James White as the city's 43rd police chief. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan last month named White as the department's new chief following a national search. Prior to his appointment, the 24-year Detroit police veteran had served in the role for an interim basis since June. 

The council voted 7-0 in favor of White's appointment. President Brenda Jones was absent. The panel had 30 days to sign off on the appointment. 

"I'd like to thank our councilmembers for their support of our new chief as he continues his important work," Duggan said on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. 

The council voted 7-0 in favor of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan's appointment of James White as the city's 43rd police chief. President Brenda Jones was absent. The panel had 30 days to sign off on the appointment.

White served as assistant chief from 2012 until August 2020, when he left to head the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. He also is a licensed mental health counselor.

White has said he was "humbled" by Duggan's appointment and vowed to work to drive down crime and work with community leaders. 

Detroit has seen double-digit increases in shootings and homicides in the last two years, mirroring a national trend.

Days after he took over as interim chief, White and Duggan announced a plan to quell crime and rowdyism that included shutting down businesses that allowed illegal activity in or around their establishments.

At the start of June, when White stepped in, homicides in Detroit were up 21% over the same period last year and the number of nonfatal shootings at that time represented a 44% increase over the same period in 2020.

Detroit's murder and violent crime rates rose last year even as overall crime declined during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city recorded 327 criminal homicides in 2020, up 19% from 274 the previous year, according to January police statistics.

After towing operations in Detroit and allegations of bribery emerged as the focus of a federal investigation that prompted raids last month at the homes of two council members, some of their staff and at City Hall, Duggan vowed to overhaul the city's municipal towing system, which he contends is "fraught with potential for abuse."

Duggan then directed White to bring him a plan to eliminate the city's towing company rotation practice.

The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners voted 8-1 earlier this month to lessen its role in selecting the city’s towing companies, moving the process to the Detroit Office of Contracting and Procurement. A competitive bidding process will replace a permit system, which the city began using in 2011, officials have said. 

"I will continue work to closely with Chief White and his team on new strategies to address the issue of violent crime in our neighborhoods, and soon will announce significant reforms to our city’s police towing process," Duggan added on Twitter. 

Staff writer George Hunter contributed