Craig announces steps to bolster police amid crime 'crisis'

David Eggert
Associated Press

Lansing — Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig on Monday called for strengthening law enforcement amid what he labeled a public safety “crisis,” announcing several moves to focus on policing while he prepares to formally run for Michigan governor.

Craig, a Republican, appointed a team of sheriffs — including some Democrats — GOP lawmakers and a county prosecutor to recommend new laws to support police. The group, which will grow, will begin meeting Aug. 23 and will survey law enforcement officials and invite local leaders to participate. Proposed legislation and actions will be released in the fall.

Craig also said he will use his bully pulpit to bring attention to crime issues, holding “Back MI Blue” events in September and challenging some prosecutors who “are refusing to enforce our laws.” He mentioned Ingham County, where the prosecutor in recent days said she will limit the use of felony firearm possession charges that disproportionately affect Black people.

Craig, who is Black, said police departments cannot recruit because of the “anti-police movement." He blamed rising crime on failed policies.

“We need leadership that understands the severity of the problem and how to resolve it,” he said in a statement. “We can't wait until election year. We must begin now.”

Craig, who formed a candidate committee in July, is expected to make his campaign official in September. Monday's announcement came as polling has shown that more Americans are concerned about crime.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is up for reelection in 2022, later Monday will propose a plan to use federal pandemic rescue funding to boost support for police officers, curb the use of illegal guns, and invest in education and job-creation efforts to prevent crime. Earlier this month, she held public safety roundtable discussions in Flint and Pontiac and said she was working to “put Michigan's safety first.”

Craig's Law Enforcement Action Team, or LEAT, includes Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and Gladwin County Sheriff Mike Shea, both Democrats, and Republicans such as Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, state House Speaker Jason Wentworth, former House speaker and 2018 attorney general candidate Tom Leonard — who may run again — and Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker.

Shea called Craig, who led Detroit's police department for eight years, “the right person at the right time to bring law enforcement from across the state together on a bipartisan basis to solve the problem of rising crime."